For Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams Is More Than An Opponent, She’s Her Biggest Inspiration


September 8, 2018

 Photo via: Al Bello/Getty Images

If you ask tennis phenom Naomi Osaka what she’s always dreamed of doing since she was a kid, she would say to play Serena Williams in a Grand Slam final. 

On Saturday, that dream will come true as the 20-year-old will face the very person who inspired her to pick up a racket in the U.S. Open finals. Osaka, who was born to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, was only three months old when Williams made her first Grand Slam appearance – and now she uses this four-word mantra to get through her own matches: “What would Serena do?” 


Holding a dual citizenship in Japan and the United States, Osaka is registered with the Japan Tennis Association. She is the first Japanese woman and first Haitian woman to reach a Grand Slam final. Although she represents Japan in the tournament, she is just as proud of her Haitian heritage, saying in an interview at the 2018 Australian Open, “I’m really honored to be playing for Japan. And my dad’s side is Haitian, so represent.”

Osaka calls her U.S. Open final with Williams a “dream match,” and even had a sweet message to send Williams before they face-off today at 4 pm ET. Check it out below. 


“For me it’s like no secret that Serena is my favorite,” Osaka shared. “I’ve watched all of her matches in the U.S. Open this year. I’m just really grateful that she’s playing again.” 


Osaka will be playing for her first U.S. Open title, while Williams has her sights set on earning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that there’s going to be a whole lot of Black girl magic on the court today. 

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