In 2018, 20-years-old Naomi Osaka experienced the best season of her still very young career, which allowed her to become one of the main favorites for the victory in the Grand Slam tournaments. In March she triumphed in Indian Wells and in September, defeating former world number one Serena Williams in her last game, she raised her first major trophy at the US Open in New York.
Before that, Naomi had never played a quarter-final in a Grand Slam event. Thanks to these results, the Japanese entered the top 10 for the first time and reached the fourth position of the WTA ranking.
Osaka: "It was like a dream"
Always a great admirer of Serena Williams, Naomi recounted the emotions she felt that late summer day in Flushing Meadows: “You know, it was always a childhood dream.
I've always wanted to challenge Serena Williams in a Grand Slam final and when it did it was incredible," said the Japanese tennis player in an interview published by EssentiallySports. However, Osaka pointed out that this was not the most important thing for her: “My main goal was to take care of my family.
Everything else was a kind of consequence. I don't know, I've always felt this wonderful feeling of having to take care of my parents, make sure they are well… I hope to continue in that direction." Naomi returned to success a few months later at the Australian Open, where she beat Petra Kvitova in the final to lift her second Grand Slam trophy.
After also triumphing in Japan and Beijing, Osaka won her second US Open title this year, this time overtaking Belarusian Viktoria Azarenka in three sets. It was the last match officially played by the 23-year-old Japanese, who will return to the field in 2021.
The 2020 WTA Finals in Shenzhen were not held: the Coronavirus pandemic made them impossible. Just few weeks ago, during the last US Open, Naomi has worn the shirt of Kobe Bryant several times, who tragically died earlier this year in a helicopter accident with his daughter Gianna.
She said: "I just want to be the kind of person he thought I would become," the Japanese woman said at a press conference. "He believed that I would become very strong, so I hope to succeed in the future." The Japanese is in fact a big fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, winners of the latest NBA title.