‘Kind of Like Serena Williams’: Martina Navratilova Cautions Naomi Osaka Ahead of Return

Published 12/30/2021, 1:32 PM EST
Tennis – A Day at the Drive Exhibition – Memorial Drive Tennis Club, Adelaide, Australia – January 29, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka with Serena Williams of the U.S. at A Day at The Drive REUTERS/Morgan Sette


In the women’s game, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are two of the biggest names currently competing. They both have dominated scenes on the tennis courts as well as off it. Interestingly, there are more similarities between the two superstars, according to the legend Martina Navratilova. 

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As the 2022 season is soon to begin, players have started assembling in Australia for the first Grand Slam event of the season. Osaka is already training on the Rod Laver Arena, all set to defend her title. 

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Naomi Osaka started off in the same manner as Serena Williams

Recently, Martina Navratilova spoke about the Japanese tennis star returning to compete after a break from the game. She felt that the 24-year-old player has similarities with Serena Williams. When the 40-year-old player initially arrived, she too won all her Majors on the hard courts just like the four-time Grand Slam winner. 

Navratilova spoke on this subject and stated, “Naomi dominated the majors, particularly the hardcourts, but never the little tournaments. Kind of like Serena. I think to leave your mark on the game, you need to dominate all the events, a la Barty, a la Djokovic. They concentrate on majors, but you can’t just use the other tournaments as warmups.”

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 18, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka with Serena Williams of the U.S. after winning their semi final match REUTERS/Kelly Defina

Time to become more versatile 

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Martina felt that in order to become an all-time great, one must learn to master performances on all surfaces and take the smaller events just as seriously. When a player competes in fewer events, the pressure tends to mount on them. If she can be as dominant on other surfaces as she is on the hard courts, then there would not be many players that would trouble her. 

The 65-year-old former player added, “The less you play, the more the pressure builds up and the less feel you have for the game itself. You need to put in the reps. If she can do that, she has the game to blow anybody off the court because she’s quick, moves well, and is strong on both wings. And she’s got the massive serve as well. She just needs to play more matches.”

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Coming to tennis, Osaka will be defending her title in Melbourne in the next few weeks. On the contrary, Williams has decided to skip the Australian Open 2022. What do you make of Martina’s comments? Do you think playing more frequently would help Osaka? 

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Rohan Kollare

1519 articles

Rohan Kollare is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Rohan has studied Sports Management and has a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering Tennis and Formula One.

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