Naomi Osaka still ‘intimidated’ by Serena Williams, but admits ‘if Serena wasn’t there, then I wouldn’t be here’
Naomi Osaka admits she still “gets very shy” whenever Serena Williams is close to her and concedes that “if Serena wasn’t there, then I wouldn’t be here”.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Osaka has never been afraid to express her adoration for 23-time major winner Williams and she famously told the American “I love you” during a post-match interview at the 2018 US Open.
But long before that Osaka was a fan of Williams as her father Leonard Francois used Richard Williams’ blueprint for coaching his daughters Venus and Serena to success as he turned Naomi and her sister Mari into professionals.
Asked about the impact that Serena, specifically, had on her during an interview with Vogue magazine, Osaka replied: “I would say that if Serena wasn’t there, then I wouldn’t be here, and I think that a lot of players would say the same thing.
Of course, shortly after declaring her “love” for Williams in 2018, Osaka and the American were involved in the controversial US Open final that year.
The Japanese youngster admits she was intimidated before the match – and still is – but she is learning how to “block out” all emotions when stepping onto the court.
“There’s a lot of things she’s so much better at,” she told Vogue. “She’s more aggressive. She knows when to go for her shots. Sometimes she hits really big service returns, and I can’t do that at all. Honestly, I’m kind of scared of her. Not scared scared but—I’m intimidated, and I get very shy when she’s like 10 feet away from me.
“That really affected me at the US Open finals in 2018, but I had worked so hard for that moment, and I felt like if I were to be intimidated or show that I was scared of her, she would capitalise on that. When I’m stepping on the court, I have to treat her as a tennis player, not as Serena Williams. I just blocked out all my emotions and thought about playing against the ball, like every ball that came across the net was my opponent.”
Boris Becker on what happens next for Alexander Zverev after a turbulent 2020
German legend Boris Becker is backing Alexander Zverev to win his first Grand Slam title in 2021.
Dominic Thiem dismisses calls for the Australian Open to be cancelled
US Open champion Dominic Thiem insists next month’s Australian Open should go ahead despite players being in quarantine.
Timeline of Andy Murray’s injury nightmare as he pulls out of Australian Open
Andy Murray is out of next month’s Australian Open here we look at the timeline of Murray’s injury troubles since 2017.
Andy Murray ‘gutted’ as he shelves plans to play at Australian Open
Murray has been unable to solve a quarantine conundrum.
Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal learn their fate in ATP Cup draw
Serbia will begin…
‘Really unjustified’ – Boris Becker leaps to Novak Djokovic’s defence over his quarantine pleas
Boris Becker believes world No.1 Novak Djokovic has come in for unfair criticism after writing a letter to Australian Open chiefs.
Umpire suffers heart attack as another Australian Open player tests positive for Covid-19
Spanish player Paula Badosa has announced she has tested positive for coronavirus during quarantine in Australia.
Laura Robson unsure about tennis future after third hip operation
The 27-year-old said her priority now is to live a pain-free life.
Andy Murray believes he can still play at the Australian Open as he plots return to action
Former world No.1 Andy Murray is still hopeful of playing in next month’s Australian Open.
Players are urged not to feed the mice in their hotel rooms as Heather Watson turns to Tik Tok
Britain’s Heather Watson has turned to Tik…