Born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, Naomi Osaka first grabbed the headlines in 2016. Aged 19, a string of fine performances secured the coveted Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Newcomer of the Year award. It was just the start.
After consolidating her gains in 2017, Osaka’s standout 2018 began by defeating the then-world No.1 Simona Halep on her way to a first WTA title at the prestigious Indian Wells tournament in March. Seven months later she took it to a whole new level by defeating her all-time idol Serena Williams in the final of the US Open.
While the match was marred by controversy, with Williams heavily penalised for an ongoing argument with the umpire, there is no doubt who the better player was. Osaka bossed it from start to finish. Despite facing Williams who was going for a record-breaking 24th grand slam title in front of her home crowd, Osaka remained unflustered throughout. A 114mph (183 km/h) service winner secured a 6-2 6-4 win and her own slice of history.
“Every time I have a dream, somehow I accomplish it.””
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