Naomi Osaka and her sister Mari began playing tennis after Williams sisters inspired her father. The 23-years-old honours her childhood idols whenever she gets an opportunity in the big stages. In a row, three-time Grand Slam champion expressed Admiration for Serena Williams in a recent interview with a popular magazine.
Earlier this year, Osaka won her third major title at the US Open and became the highest-paid female athlete ever. And now, she received Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson Of The Year Award and posed on the cover of an American monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine.
Speaking about her childhood in a recent interview with Vogue Magazine, Naomi Osaka said, “I would say that if Serena wasn’t there, then I wouldn’t be here and I think that a lot of players would say the same thing.”
“I Have To Treat Her As Tennis Player, Not As Serena Williams”: Naomi Osaka
Naomi opened her Grand Slam account when she bested her childhood idol, Serena Williams, in Flushing Meadows major event championship match.
And also, Osaka emphasized her idol’s playing strategies. The World No.3 said of Junior Williams, “She’s more aggressive. She knows when to go for her shots. Sometimes she hits huge service returns, and I can’t do that at all. Honestly, I’m kind of scared of her. Not scared but—I’m intimidated, and I get timid when she’s like 10 feet away from me.”
“That really affected me at the U.S. Open finals in 2018, but I had worked so hard for that moment, and I felt like if I were to be intimidated or show that I was scared of her, she would capitalise on that.”, Naomi added.
Talking about her playing method against her childhood idol Naomi Osaka explained, “When I’m stepping on the court, I have to treat her as a tennis player, not as Serena Williams. I just blocked out all my emotions and thought about playing against the ball, like every ball that came across the net was my opponent.”