‘Grew Up Playing’: Jennifer Brady Remembers Being Awe-Struck Watching a Young Naomi Osaka Play

Published 02/18/2021, 2:30 PM EST
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 8, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates winning her first round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Loren Elliott

The women’s singles division has just one match remaining at the Australian Open 2021. We have two amazing finalists in Jennifer Brady and Naomi Osaka, who’ll undoubtedly put on a clash when they take to the court on February 20th. Furthermore, Brady and Osaka have been familiar with each other’s game since their junior-level careers! 


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Jennifer Brady and Naomi Osaka have known each other for a long time

Jennifer Brady recently sat down for a press conference ahead of her clash with Naomi Osaka, where she was asked to recollect early memories of her upcoming opponent. Here’s what Brady said: 


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“Actually, we grew up playing junior local tournaments in Florida. Both her and her sister, I played in the Juniors local, like Super Series events just like USTA sanctioned tournaments,” Brady began. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka after winning her semi final match against Serena Williams of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

For readers who are unaware, Naomi Osaka has an older sister named Mari, who is also a professional tennis player. Jennifer Brady has competed against the Osaka sisters in her junior career and still remembers how she was awe-struck by watching Naomi play! 

“I remember playing her [Naomi Osaka] in this tournament. It may have been like a lower-level challenger event and I think she was just coming up maybe inside the top 200.

“I remember playing her and I was like wow she’s all huge like she’s going to be good. I was like okay she’s got something special,” Brady mentioned. 

Brady is excited yet calm ahead of the most important match in her life

Jennifer Brady will make her first appearance in the final of a Grand Slam when she steps onto the court on Saturday. It is a huge achievement in the American’s career, and she detailed what’s the most important thing she’ll be focusing on:

“There’s going to be moments, there’s going to be games, there’s going to be points where I’m going to be thinking well this could be my first grand slam title or yeah I will definitely have those thoughts but it’s more just trying to control the emotions really,” Brady expressed. 

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Jennifer Brady of the U.S. reacts during her quarter final match against Jessica Pegula of the U.S. REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Furthermore, this will be the second meeting between Brady and Naomi Osaka in a Grand Slam. The latter won the first, which came at US Open 2020


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“I think we both played a really good semifinal match at the U.S. Open. Unfortunately, there were no fans but the next time we play, there will be fans so I think that’s something that’s going to be extremely exciting,” Brady mentioned. 

It will be a solid matchup indeed, especially for the Australian fans who will flock to the stadium to watch Osaka and Brady play.

Will Osaka come out on top and win her second Australian Open crown, or will Brady spoil the party and win her first Majors title?


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Arjun Athreya

1841 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.