What should have been an incredible victory for 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, turned out to be an emotional roller coaster at the just concluded US Open.
The young tennis star had just defeated arguably one of the greatest sports icons of all time and while this was a source of pride, it was also a source of pain.
This is because this was her hero.
Serena Williams lost and there were boos as people were unable to fathom the defeat which was also marred by controversy which saw Serena confront the umpire and label him a liar and a thief.
Naomi Osaka, who is part Japanese, part Haitian, apologised for disappointing her hero and to everyone who wanted Serena to win
Answering questions after her stunning win, she said: “Your question is making me emotional,”
“Because I know she really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam, right? Everyone knows this. It’s on the commercials, it’s everywhere.
“When I step onto the court, I feel like a different person. I’m not a Serena fan. I’m just a tennis player playing another tennis player.
“But then when I hugged her at the net (tearing up) … when I hugged her at the net, I felt like a little kid again.”
Osaka is a huge fan of Williams, claiming that she wanted to be just like her. She even claimed that during matches she looked to Serena for inspiration, “Sometimes when I’m in a really important position, when I’m serving, I’m like, ‘What would Serena do?’”
“She’s the main reason why I started playing tennis and I have seen her on TV so many times and I have always been cheering for her.”
This isn’t even the first time Naomi Osaka is winning against the superstar having also faced and won against her in March in William’s fourth match after her pregnancy.
“I was extremely nervous coming on to the court. I don’t know if anybody knows this but Serena is my favourite player,” Osaka said after that match. “So just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me. I’m very grateful I was able to play her and it is even better that I was able to win.”