Japan's Naomi Osaka says beating Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final felt like an out-of-body experience since she grew up watching the tennis legend. Currently ranked No. 10 in the world and a former World No. 1, Osaka recently had a chat with Mikey Williams, a young American basketball player who is one of the top basketball prospects in the United States.
The two athletes recently met via a video conference call for TIME magazine to talk about their careers and also the recent Black Lives Matter protests among other things.
Naomi Osaka says beating Serena Williams felt like an out of body experience
During the chat, Osaka was asked about beating tennis legend Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final.
The win marked the first Grand Slam title for the young Japanese player and announced her arrival on the international tennis scene as a major star. "It feels really crazy because you grow up watching them. Just for them to be seeing you as an opponent is very surreal.
I feel like I dreamed of the moment—and for it to happen in real life was definitely an out-of-body experience. Whatever sport you play, you’re compared to the person that’s most similar to you—and for me it was always Serena."
The 22 year old Osaka has been a leading voice among the athletes during the recent Black Lives Matter movement and says she felt that it was important to speak up about things that mattered. "I think athletes are scared of losing sponsors whenever they speak out.
For me, that was really true, because most of my sponsors are Japanese. They probably have no idea what I’m talking about, and they might have been upset. But there comes a time where you feel like you gotta speak on what’s right and what’s important."
The Japanese player was recently named the highest earning female athlete in sports and added that she is still learning a lot when it comes outside the tennis courts as she has started working on a few ventures in the business world.
"Most of the time, people don’t expect athletes to really get involved in the product. They just expect you to be a figurehead. But the newer generation is really becoming involved, trying to be investors." Naomi Osaka will be competing at the Western & Southern Open in New York, followed by the US Open. She is one the favourites for the tournaments in New York.