“Want Her to Play Forever”: Naomi Osaka Voices Wish for Idol Serena Williams After Australian Open 2021 Victory
After consigning her to another unflattering Grand Slam exit, Naomi Osaka has said she wants Serena Williams to go on playing “forever”.
The Japanese World Number 3 found her mojo after initial hiccups to tame the 23-time Grand Slam champion in straight sets in the first semifinal of the Australian Open on Thursday.
Osaka recovered from early hiccups to beat Serena Williams in Australian Open Semifinal
After conceding a break in her opening service game, Osaka let fly screaming winners off her handle, leaving the veteran in shock and awe and prolonging her agonizing quest for a 24th Grand Slam title that will take her to the joint highest career haul alongside yesteryear stalwart Margaret Court.
The 39-year-old Serena walked off the court with her head bowed, unsure whether she would return to the Melbourne Park next year.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, the Japanese, however, said she would never want her idol to stop playing tennis.
“I want her to play forever. That’s the little kid in me. But yeah…,” the World Number 3 said.
Naomi Osaka says it’s “the little kid in her” that wants Serena Williams never to stop playing tennis
One of her biggest inspirations in her early years in the game, there’s a lot in Osaka’s game that beggars comparisons with the 39-year-old’s.
Booming serves, powerful groundstrokes and leaping forays into the net, which are the signature traits associated with Serena, are also at the core of Osaka’s game.
In fact, and has already been documented, it was after watching Serena in action that the Haitian father of the Japanese star decided to school her on tennis.
The 23-year-old has made no secret of her admiration for the American and the two were caught exchanging pleasantries during and after the exhibition tie in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open.
She later took to her Instagram handle, juxtaposing her first picture with Serena with her latest, which was at Adelaide then.
Going into her last-four battle against the American, Osaka was tied 2-2 in head-to-head battles, underlining their fierce rivalries on court.
However, with her win on Thursday, the Japanese made it two wins out of two in Grand Slams, with the earlier one coming in the championship clash of 2018 US Open.