Why does Serena consider Naomi an ‘Incredible Opponent ?
“I believe like she does everything well,” the twenty three-time Grand Slam singles title champion was all praise when she spoke about Naomi Osaka.
Serena Williams complimented Naomi Osaka as an “incredible opponent” in a press conference on Tuesday as the two tennis megastars prepare to lock horns in the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open on Thursday.
After beating Romania’s Halep in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, Williams responded to questions about what her thoughts were about the impending semi-final match against Japan’s Osaka during a post-match interview.
“I feel good, I feel like … I’m here, I’m happy to be here, and I gotta keep going, that’s obviously the goal,” Williams said. “Obviously, I have an incredible opponent to play, so it’ll be nice to hopefully keep raising the level of my game – I’m going to have to.”
At another point in the news conference, Serena Williams commented that Osaka is a “very strong player.”
She acknowledged that Naomi has a good serve, has a great return, strong on both sides.
Williams and Osaka had a memorable encounter at the 2018 U.S. Open, when umpire Carlos Ramos polemically delivered Williams three code violations. Naomi Osaka defeated Serena Williams in that match, achieving her first Grand Slam title.
Furor surrounding the legendary match dwarfed Osaka’s win at the time, and the event fueled a wave of discriminatory and sexist assaults against Serena.
Williams tackled the scandalous match in a 2019 essay for Harper’s Bazaar, sharing a note she sent to Naomi that read, in part:
“I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete.”
Twenty three year old Osaka, who grew up adoring the thirty nine year old Serena, noted during a post-match interview this week that she always “watches Serena’s matches.”
Williams is pursuing her twenty fourth Grand Slam singles title, which would bring her level with Margaret Court’s record, including the thirteen Court won before the Open era.
Two larger than life and totally in form tennis stars have set the stage for a blockbuster semi final at the 2021 Australian Open.
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