“That will sound strange. But hopefully I can play long enough to play against a girl who said that I was once her favorite player,” said the 23-year-old Japanese on Saturday after her Melbourne final when asked, what is the greatest that she still wants to achieve.
“I think this is the coolest thing that could ever happen to me,” said Osaka. With the 6: 4.6: 3 in the final against the US outsider Jennifer Brady, Osaka won her fourth Grand Slam title.
The victories at Wimbledon and the French Open are still missing. One of her role models was longtime US superstar Serena Williams, who she defeated in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
Osaka has now been unbeaten for over a year, but has not played often in the corona-shortened season. As a precaution, she refrained from appearing twice because of an injury, including in the week before the Australian Open. On the hard court and when it matters, she is currently almost unbeatable.
Tennis is no longer a top priority
Only in the round of 16 did last year’s finalist Garbine Muguruza have two unused match points against Osaka, otherwise the Japanese won all games in two sets, including in the semifinals against Williams.
During the quarantine, Osaka took another big step forward – not so much playfully, but above all mentally. She acknowledges that herself. “I had a tendency to measure my well-being only by my performance on the pitch,” says the daughter of a Haitian and a Japanese woman from Sapporo. “But seeing what was going on in the world gave me a completely different perspective.” She doesn’t just mean the pandemic, but also the “Black Lives Matter” protest movement, which draws attention to violence against black people.
The shy girl, who could hardly utter a sound, has become a self-confident woman of 23 years who is not afraid to speak her mind, but never loses her decency. She is aware that she is currently a serial winner and has a great future. “But I go step by step and prefer to live in the moment,” she emphasized.
If Osaka can still play well on clay and grass, it will have what it takes to dominate the currently rather unmanaged women’s tennis scene for many years to come – and to become even more of a global icon than it has for a long time who was 16 years older than Serena Williams. She improved on Monday from 3rd to 2nd in the world rankings and would probably be number 1 if Ashleigh Barty couldn’t keep the results of the year before last in the ranking.
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Australian Open winner Osaka inspire girls sport mix tennis