Naomi Osaka claims victory against Serena Williams in Australian Open
'Just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream,' the tennis phenom said of Williams.
Tennis phenom Naomi Osaka triumphed over Serena Williams to move on to the final round of the Australian Open.
Despite pressure from the 23-time Grand Slam winner, Osaka held Williams off to win 6-3, 6-4.
Japan’s Osaka — who is on a 20-match winning streak and has never lost in a Slam final — will face American Jennifer Brady on Saturday for the title. The two played during the 2020 US Open semi-final, which Osaka won.
“I was really nervous and scared in the beginning,” Osaka said after her match with Williams, “and then I sort of eased my way into it.”
During the press conference, Osaka hinted at how it felt to be playing her hero.
“I don’t know if there’s any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play,” Osaka, 23, said about Williams, 39, “and just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream.”
Williams has been fighting to tie or exceed Margaret Court, who currently holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles in history. Court’s number is 24, just one less than Williams.
During Wednesday’s match, attendance at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne was cut in half, limited to 7,000 due to COVID-19 protocols. Fans were reminded to keep their masks over their noses and mouths by the increased presence of ushers, who patrolled the stadium aisles.
In a later post on Instagram, Williams thanked her Australian fans.
“I am so honored to be able to play in front of you all,” she wrote. “Your support — your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today. I am forever in debt and grateful to each and every one single one of you.”