Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka has never made a secret of her admiration for 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. In fact, it was after watching the American in action that Osaka’s Haitian father had decided to get her in tennis.
In a recent interview with Vogue magazine, the reigning US Open champion said she struggles to find speech and fights shy in the presence of Serena.
If her latest post on Twitter is any indication, the mutual love and respect that the two stars share with each other seems to have only grown with time.
In her Twitter post, Osaka has juxtaposed two pictures with the younger Williams sister – one of her first meeting with Serena and the other the recent camaraderie that was on view during the ‘Day at the Drive’ exhibition tennis event in Adelaide.
During the exhibition match ahead of the Australian Open, Osaka and Serena were pictured sharing a laugh and exchanging pleasantries between points. Even after the game, which the 39-year-old American won in three sets, they were spotted caught up with each other on the courtside.
The first picture that the current World Number 3 has shared shows Serena posing for a selfie with a star-struck Osaka.
The Japanese star was very much in her teens when the picture was taken.
The other image is from the exhibition event in Adelaide, showing the two smiling stars posing with mementos that were presented to them at the end of the match.
Osaka captioned the post as, “The first pic…The most recent pic”.
She also shared a moment from the exhibition tie on her Instagram page with a message that goes, “Yesterday with the queen (emojis). Swipe all the way through for a throwback lol I could not stop smiling that day.”
The post drew a response from Serena, who commented, “Such a fun time!!”
However, being hardcore professionals that they are, the two stars will put their camaraderie aside and focus on getting the better of each other as they take their on-court rivalry into Melbourne Park.
As far as head-to-head battles go, Serena and Osaka have met each other four times, with both winning two matches apiece. In a way, the head-to-head record sums up how the two stars are the fiercest of rivals when it comes to battles on court.
However, as is evident from Osaka’s post, there’s no love lost.