Naomi Osaka: 'You can't write Serena Williams off, she still plays well'

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Naomi Osaka: 'You can't write Serena Williams off, she still plays well'

Finishing outside the top-60 two years ago, Naomi Osaka has made incredible progress in the last two years to become one of the world's leading players. The Japanese claimed back-to-back Major titles at the US Open 2018 and the Australian Open 2019, becoming world no.

1 after Melbourne and setting eyes on Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the following months. Nonetheless, Osaka lost the ground a little bit after that great success, struggling to find the form and failing to reach the final in the next 12 WTA tournaments!

The Japanese had to leave Roland Garros and Wimbledon much earlier that she expected and it wasn't to be for her at the US Open as well, saying farewell to her crown after the fourth round loss against Belinda Bencic.

Eager to get back on the winning way, Naomi went home to Japan where she conquered the title in the hometown of Osaka, adding Premier Mandatory crown in Beijing two weeks later and hoping for more of the same at the WTA Finals.

Nonetheless, she had to leave Shenzhen after the opening win over Petra Kvitova, dealing with a right shoulder injury that concluded her season. Osaka is ready to fight for big trophies again in 2020, kicking off the action in Brisbane and Melbourne where she has 2000 points to defend.

Speaking about her rivals ahead of the new season, Osaka dropped massive praise for Serena Williams, calling the 23-time Major champion one of the players to beat despite the reduced schedule. Also, Naomi had some kind words for the current no.

1 Ashleigh Barty, hoping to play against the Aussie many times in the future. "It is silly to write Serena off," Osaka said. "She was the finalist at Wimbledon and the US Open, staying in the top-10 despite playing the fewest number of tournaments.

I think people are a bit hard on her, she isn't just someone that you write-off. I wouldn't have played tennis if it wasn't for Serena and her sister Venus, watching them play when I was younger and embracing tennis myself together with my sister.

Serena is definitely someone that I look up to. There are a lot of excellent players coming up and I feel women's tennis is powerful right now. I would love to be no.1 again but I think Ashleigh deserves the spot right now, she has played an incredible year, winning a Grand Slam, the WTA Finals and other tournaments.

I know we are going to play against each other many times throughout our careers, she is one of the most nicely talked about players and the kindest persons."