Naomi Osaka Hopes Serena Williams Never Stops Playing
Osaka beat the 23-time Grand Slam champ.
Ever since she started playing tennis, Naomi Osaka has named Serena Williams as an inspiration — and today, she beat her hero at the Australian Open semifinals. However, in an after-game interview, Osaka had nothing but admiration for Williams, who has earned a whopping 23 total Grand Slam championships during her time on the court.
Osaka spoke about her relationship with Williams after her win, telling "little kids" that Williams inspired her to pick up a racquet and that having the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Williams was a "dream."
"I don't know if there's any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play," Osaka said. "And just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream."
She went on to say that she hoped Williams would "play forever." ESPN notes that Williams dodged any questions about a possible retirement after her loss.
"Of course, every time I play her I feel like it's something I'll definitely remember a lot," Osaka said. "For me, I want her to play forever. Well, that's the little kid in me."
"I could have won. I could have been up 5-love," Williams said in her post-game interview, which happened after a standing ovation from the crowd in Melbourne. "I just made so many errors."
And as for retirement, Williams said that if and when she decides to step away from the game, there won't be much pomp and circumstance.
"I don't know," she said when asked about the possibility that this could have been her last appearance at the Australian Open. "If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone."
Osaka will play Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open finals. Osaka took home the trophy last year. If she bests Brady, Osaka will have four Grand Slam titles to her name.