Serena to play fan girl Osaka in US Open final

Heather Diaz
September 8, 2018

"I really feel like I don't want to overthink this match, so I'm not going to think that she's so much better than she was in Miami". Writing about Naomi is always fresh for me even though I have been in this business for a long time and I have known her for four years already.

"To come from that, in the hospital bed, not being able to move and walk and do anything, now only a year later, I'm not training, but I'm actually in these finals, in two in a row", said Williams, who also reached the final at Wimbledon. "I have won a few doubles championships, so I know how to volley", Williams said with a laugh, before adding this punch line: "I just usually come in only to shake hands". Keys, the 2017 US Open runner-up, had nothing but praise for Osaka after the match.

At Williams' first Open in 1999, Osaka was 11 months old.

Two years ago, she was asked a question about her career ambitions and responded by saying: "To be the very best, like no-one ever was". Two and a half years later, Williams herself will be testing that herself while Osaka lives out a dream.

Osaka also has a strong attachment to Japanese culture, describing her visits to the country as like a "super-awesome extended vacation that I don't want to leave", according to media reports. Where Williams can be a bit erratic, Osaka's win percentage on second serve is consistently high for each of her matches; barring marginal difficulties in her match against Sabalenka, she has not dipped below 60 percent. Let's go back to the beginning. In fact, Serena has bagled her opponents thrice in NY this year.

Naomi Osaka celebrates match point against Madison Keys in a women's semi-final match on day eleven of the 2018 US Open tennis tournament in New York September 6, 2018.

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Osaka, almost three years younger than her opponent, had never been beyond the fourth round at a slam prior to this week but, bar a very close match against fellow 20-year-old Aryna Sabalenka, has steamrollered through the draw.

But the ad has the backing of many top athletes, Williams and National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James appearing in the video, and the message - "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything" - drew praise from Woods.

"Every time I step out on this court I'm so grateful that I have the opportunity to play this sport".

Osaka turned in another impressive performance in her press conference, just after midnight, an event that has become unmissable theatre. After breaking again for a 4-2 lead she produced a convincing hold that featured the first of her four aces.

When asked this year if she or Roger Federer would retire first, she replied: "Oh, I'm just playing until Roger stops". She is the oldest U.S. Open finalist of all time, besting then-34-year-old Martina Navratilova's record in 1991.

Honestly, it is remarkable. "So the fact that I made it to the quarterfinals and played some really good matches and I just competed as hard as I could, I mean [it's] a lot to be proud of".

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