Martina Navratiova Calls Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff the Torch Bearers of a Strong Women’s Field

Published 04/18/2021, 7:00 AM EDT
Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a backhand against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Yesteryear tennis great Martina Navratilova has said she is happy that women’s tennis is in good hands and the contemporary field is as competitive as it’s ever been.

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In a one-on-one with fellow stalwart and one-time rival Chris Evert, the 18-time Grand Slam champion recalled that there were hardly any role models when they started out in the sport but she’s happy to have passed the mantle on to some great talents thereafter.

She added that the likes of Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff represent a strong and diverse women’s field, which throws up a new champion every tournament.

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Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff becoming household names says Martina Navratilova

The former champion, who won a record nine titles at Wimbledon, said Osaka and Gauff have taken a lot less time than herself and her contemporaries to make their mark in the sport and court headlines.

“The field of the women that’s making headlines, becoming household names like Coco Gauff (and) Naomi Osaka. (They are) much quicker than when we first started,” Navratilova said.

The 23-year-old Japanese became the toast of the tennis world after she took down the mighty Serena Williams in front of her adoring home crowd in the final of the 2018 US Open.

Coco Gauff of the United States celebrates after winning match point during her Women’s Singles third round match against Naomi Osaka of Japan day five of the 2020 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 24, 2020, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Osaka has since raced up the charts in the women’s game and won back-to-back Grand Slams at the 2020 US Open and this year’s Australian Open, becoming the first woman since former Russian tennis champion Maria Sharapova to have won four career Major championship titles.

Having received a wildcard entry to the 2019 Wimbledon championships, Gauff turned heads beating five-time champion Venus Williams in the opening round.

At 17, the American already has a WTA Tour title to her kitty.

Martina Navratilova says the mantle has passed on to some very good hands from her time

Navratilova said the emergence of new stars has taken the women’s game to countries where tennis hadn’t taken root even a few years back.

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“The reach is that much bigger and I’m just so proud that we’re a part of it and now we’re passing it on to some very good hands. Keep the torch going,” the legend said.

And when it comes to exemplifying the wider reach of women’s tennis, nobody, perhaps, does it better than Polish tennis sensation Iga Swiatek.

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Coming from a country that was barely on the tennis map, the 19-year-old Pole won a million hearts with her maiden Grand Slam title at last year’s French Open.

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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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