Naomi Osaka Says She Had Serena Williams And Billie Jean King Posters on Her Wall as a Kid

Published 03/21/2021, 12:30 PM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 20, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka gives an interview as she celebrates with the trophy after winning her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott


A global icon and a role model for many, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka had quite a few sporting giants that she looked up to and idolized growing up.

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What’s more, Osaka has made no secret of her admiration for some of these stalwarts, in particular 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

Naomi Osaka has made no secret of her admiration for Serena Williams

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While her reverence doesn’t take away from the competitive edge when she goes to battle with her idol, Osaka continues to be unabashed in her expression of love for the superstar American.

In what was a classic illustration of how their off-court camaraderie doesn’t take the shine off their rivalry on court, the Japanese came out all guns blazing against Serena in the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open and sent her crashing out of the tournament.

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

However, the respect came to the fore when the Japanese bowed to the American at the customary post-match greeting across the net.

Now, in an interview with leading American publication ‘Us Weekly’ where she spilled some lesser-known things about herself, the current World Number 2 has given an idea of the extent to which she worshipped Serena as an aspiring tennis player.

Naomi Osaka’s father put her in tennis after watching Serena Williams in action

Osaka said the walls of her room were dotted with posters of Serena and other legends in the sport whom she followed growing up. She added that she was also a big fan of another American tennis legend – 12-time Grand Slam champion Billie Jean King.

“I had posters of all my favorite tennis players on my wall as a kid: Serena Williams and Billie Jean King,” the Japanese said.

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

It’s fairly well documented that Osaka’s Haitian father decided to put her into tennis after watching Serena in action, and it was the beginning of her idol worship of the American.

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She recently shared a post on Instagram to demonstrate what the ‘Queen of Slams’ means to her.

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Osaka juxtaposed her first picture with Serena with one on the sidelines of an exhibition match ahead of this year’s Australian Open.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

852 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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