The new U.S. Open champion, Naomi Osaka, was a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Wednesday and she talked for the first time about her whirlwind experience over the last week.
One question the 20-year-old tennis star answered was what Serena Williams, who Osaka called her idol before the start of the match, whispered to her as the boos rained down on the court and tears poured down her face following the controversial finish to her straight set victory in the championship match.
“She said that she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me,” Osaka told DeGeneres. “At the time, I did think that they were booing me.
“I couldn’t tell what was going on, because it was just so loud in there,” she added. “It was a little bit stressful.”
Osaka, who is of Haitian and Japanese descent, became the first-ever Japanese-born Grand Slam champion with the win. Her father, Leonard Francois, was inspired to get Naomi and her older sister Mari into tennis after watching the Williams sisters rise in the late 1990s.
Also during the interview, Osaka was asked by Ellen to reveal her celebrity crush. The answer? Black Pantherstar – and potentially future Superman – Michael B. Jordan.
Ellen later took a selfie with Osaka and then texted it to Jordan on the air.
“You’re stressing me out,” Osaka quipped, somewhat sheepishly. “I’m too young to be stressed out like this.”
Osaka has also begun to cash in on her victory. She was signed as a brand ambassador for Nissan, which also has a personal touch for the Japanese-born Osaka.
“Growing up, my dad drove a Nissan, so being able to be a brand ambassador now, it feels like I’ve come full circle,” she said Thursday, speaking mostly in English at the car company’s headquarters in Yokohama, according to Reuters.
She is also set to ink a $10 million deal with Adidas to go with the nearly $4 million she took home for her U.S. Open win.