Naomi Osaka is now a Grand Slam champion, after dominating her idol Serena Williams in the US Open final. The Japanese displayed sensational tennis and composure, even though the player at the other side of the net was the GOAT, so I thought it would be nice to share these super cute childhood photos of Osaka in my Little Tennis Stars series and refer to some quotes from the 20-year-old’s post-final interview.
During the press conference, emotional Osaka explained how she managed to hold her nerve during the final and how she felt after facing her childhood idol at the trophy presentation.
Like, when I step onto the court, I feel like a different person, right? I’m not a Serena fan. I’m just a tennis player playing another tennis player.
But then when I hugged her at the net (tearing up)…
Anyway, when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again.
Further explaining Serena’s impact on her childhood, Osaka revealed:
When I was growing up, I did a whole report on her in third grade. I colored it and everything. I said, I want to be like her (smiling).
During the presser, Naomi mentioned her tennis-playing sister Mari (pictured above) in a beautiful way. When asked if she had any special plans for spending some of her $3.8 million that the US Open title has brought her, modest Naomi answered:
Uhm, I’m not really the type that spends money on myself. For me, as long as my family’s happy, I’m happy. When I see my sister, because she’s going to Tokyo, too [Naomi’s next tournament], I think for me that’s the biggest gift.