Although on Tuesday tennis star Naomi Osaka lost in the first round to Danielle Collins, she, like most of the world, was anticipating the performance of Serena Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium in her final U.S. Open, reports the New York Times.
During a pre-tournament press conference held on Saturday, the four-time Grand Slam champion spoke about the influence of her idol Serena and the Williams family.
“I’m a product of what she’s done,” Osaka said. “I wouldn’t be here without Serena, Venus, and her whole family.”
On the tennis court, Osaka and Williams have competed in five matches; Osaka has won three of the matches including the 2020 U.S. Open. Osaka has followed the path that has been blazed by the on and off-the-court exploits of Serena Williams.
When Williams announced that the U.S. Open would be her last competitive tournament, it sent shockwaves through the world of tennis and beyond. As a beneficiary of the doors that Williams opened during her run as arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, the news hit Osaka hard.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, my God,’ this is what devastation must feel like,” said Osaka when she read the news of Williams’ pending retirement. “It really is an honor just to keep watching her play.”
On Monday night, Osaka was in attendance to watch Williams put on another stunning display of tennis excellence against her opponent Danka Kovinic. She sat around 20 rows up from the court, even to the baseline cheering on her “shero” along with the capacity crowd.
Williams’ opponent this evening will be Anett Kontaveit whose ranked number two in the world. Without question, Osaka will be watching her idol’s every move like she’s been since she was a child.