“I Wouldn’t Be Here”: Naomi Osaka Credits Serena Williams for Inspiring Her to Play Tennis

Published 12/12/2020, 1:28 AM EST


Having won three Grand Slam titles, Naomi Osaka is en route on the path to greatness. After winning the award for WTA Newcomer of the Year in 2016, Osaka made worldwide headlines when she won her first Grand Slam at the 2018 US Open. She defeated her childhood idol, Serena Williams, in the final and became the first Japanese to win a singles Grand Slam title.

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The 23-year-old has often expressed her admiration for Williams and talked about deriving inspiration from the American. Having turned pro at age 15, Williams continues to dominate the women’s tour like no other and has won an astonishing 23 Grand Slam singles titles.

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Naomi Osaka pays tribute to Serena

When Osaka’s father Leonard Francois watched the Williams sisters compete at the 1999 French Open, they amazed him. Having no prior tennis experience, Francois started teaching tennis to his daughters Naomi and Mari with help of guidebooks and DVDs.

Interestingly, during an interview with Vogue, Osaka revealed that the younger Williams’ sister was the reason behind her becoming a tennis player. She added that many players would also subscribe to her statement on the tour.

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“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,” said Osaka.

Naomi Osaka with the US Open 2020 title. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

This year, Osaka won her second US Open title by beating Victoria Azarenka in an epic final. The World No.4 will now aim to claim the 2021 Australian Open, the tournament she won in 2019.

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Apart from the on-court heroics, Osaka has been the highest-earning female athlete from June 2019 to June 2020, according to Forbes. Minting $37.4 million in combined prize money and endorsements, Osaka eclipsed Williams and Maria Sharapova on the list.

Sponsored by Nike, Louis Vuitton, Mastercard, Beats, PlayStation, Airbnb, Nissan, and many more, Osaka’s multinational identity has made her one of the most influential in the world.

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Kshitij Tayal

492 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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