Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka React with Disbelief After Watching the Surreal Crowd at Adelaide Exhibition

Published 01/29/2021, 1:45 AM EST
Tennis – A Day at the Drive Exhibition – Memorial Drive Tennis Club, Adelaide, Australia – January 29, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams of the U.S. talk to the media at A Day at The Drive REUTERS/Morgan Sette


Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka was back jousting with Serena Williams, one of her idols in the game growing up, in Adelaide on Thursday.

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Albeit an exhibition tie ahead of the all-important Australian Open, the match wasn’t short of thrills as the Japanese went down to the 23-time Grand Slam champion 2-6, 6-2, 7-10.

More than how the match panned out, both players were visibly chuffed to be back playing in front of packed stands, with every point being lustily cheered.

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Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka were excited to be playing in front of packed stands again

The reigning US Open champion and the 39-year-old American seemed to be feeding off the smiling faces as they shook off the lockdown rust and got some good practice ahead of the challenges that await at the Australian Open.

Serena couldn’t hold her excitement of playing to a packed arena after a long time.

Speaking courtside after the match, the American said, “I haven’t played in front of a crowd in over a year. It’s been a really long time.”

She thanked the Australian government and Tennis Australia for the quarantine arrangements ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam, saying, “Trusting us with your laws was great.”

Osaka, too, summed up the mood, saying, “I haven’t seen people in like…forever.”

Osaka eyeing 4th Grand Slam title at Australian Open, Serena her 24th

Both Serena and Osaka are part of a contingent of 50 players, who have been quarantining in Adelaide ahead of the Major. It includes the three top-ranked men and women. The Japanese star is currently the World Number 3.

The Day at the Drive event will also feature other top stars such as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, and home favorite and women’s World Number 1 Ashleigh Barty.

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While Osaka will head to Melbourne Park with an eye on her fourth Grand Slam title, the American Serena will be bidding for a record 24th title, which will put her on level with the legendary Margaret Court’s career tally of Major trophies.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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