Naomi Osaka: After Serena storm, US Open champion could have the last laugh

The US Open should have been one of the showpiece events of the sporting summer.The wealthiest of ten...

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 12:36 PM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 12:36 PM

The US Open should have been one of the showpiece events of the sporting summer.

The wealthiest of tennis' four grand slam events, the New York tournament has a rich history and boasted a record purse.

Asia

Compensation and benefits

Continents and regions

Discrimination

East Asia

Employment discrimination

Gender pay gap

Japan

Labor and employment

Osaka

Pay gap

Serena Williams

Sex and gender issues

Sex discrimination

Societal issues

Society

Sports and recreation

Sports figures

Tennis

Wages and salaries

Professional tennis

Grand Slam Tournaments

Sports events

Tennis events

Referees and umpires

Naomi Osaka

And yet, after the events that unfolded in Saturday's women's final at Flushing Meadow, no one -- not the players, the officials, administrators, the fans or the sport itself -- emerged as a winner.

Perhaps the biggest loser in it all was the eventual champion, Naomi Osaka, whose moment of glory was taken away in the aftermath of a tirade by Williams.

It started when chair umpire Carlos Ramos gave Williams a code violation for coaching, and eventually ended up with accusations of sexism in the aftermath.

You are only a first-time major singles champion once, of course.

READ: Newspaper doubles down on racist Serena cartoon

In the 10 minutes that followed her stunning 6-2 6-4 victory against the most dominant female player of the past two decades, as Arthur Ashe Stadium was being prepared for what would be a deeply awkward trophy ceremony, Osaka sat all alone in her chair as parts of the 23,000-strong crowd booed loudly.

Osaka, a shy, quirky personality who idolized Williams growing up, put her cap down over her eyes and started to cry during the trophy ceremony. It was only after Williams took the mic, and pleaded with spectators to stop booing and give credit to the new champion, that it ended.

"Ultimately, you never know what you're made out of until you're tested," Osaka's coach, Sascha Bajin, told the New York Times.

"Naomi was thrown in there into deep water today," said Baijin, who spent several years as the hitting partner of Williams.

"Got everything thrown at her: big bombs by Serena, the crowd, the drama. She remained with her composure. There are certain things you can train yourself to do; other things you just have, and I believe it's a gift, what Naomi has."

A lot has been said in the aftermath of a bizarre final, but not much attention has been paid to Osaka's brilliant performance in the face of the storm raging on the other side of the net.

Speaking to WTA Insider two days after becoming the first Japanese player to win a grand slam singles title, Osaka said: "I hope Serena isn't mad at me."

READ: Serena is calling out sexism in tennis. Here's why

But Osaka has no need to apologize. She simply did everything better than Williams; she served better, moved better and returned better.

Osaka struck six aces, twice as many as Williams. The 20-year-old won 73% of the points on her first serve, while Williams took 63%. Osaka was also able to neutralize the Williams serve, widely regarded as one of the best in all of tennis, as she won 45% of return points. Williams took 36% of her return points.

After she was given a code violation for coaching in the second game of the second set by Ramos, a fuming Williams told the umpire that she "never cheated" and "would rather lose" than do that. A racket smash by Williams led to a second code violation, and this time she was docked a point.

A visit to the court from tournament referee Brian Earley and grand slam supervisor Donna Kelso failed to diffuse the situation and, having led 3-1 in the second set, a rattled Williams lost it completely as she went down 4-3.

During the changeover, she called Ramos a "thief" and a "liar" because he "stole a point," from her, which led to Ramos handing out a third code violation for verbal abuse, and a game penalty. Now down 5-3, Williams did manage to hold serve.

Serving for the biggest win of her life as boos reverberated around the stadium, Osaka retained her poise, as she had throughout the entire match, and slammed a huge serve out wide on her first match point to win the title.

"When I turned around, uhm, it was 5-3, so I was a little bit confused then," Osaka said in a post-match news conference. "But for me, I felt like I really had to focus during this match because she's such a great champion, and I know that she can come back from any point. I was just trying to focus on myself at that time."

READ: Celebs rally around Williams

Although Osaka's moment to shine was taken away from her, her victory has turned her into a superstar in Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe congratulating her on Twitter and thanked her for "giving Japan a boost of inspiration at this time of hardship."

Last week, Japan was struck by a typhoon and earthquake that killed dozens of people.

Born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka was raised in the US but competes for Japan. In recent years, she has taken lessons to brush up on her Japanese.

Osaka's moment of glory may have been taken away from her, she could end up having the last laugh at the bank.

Osaka, only the second Asian woman to win a major singles title after China's Li Na at the 2011 French Open, may soon start to out earn Williams when it comes to endorsements, according to Forbes.

"She seems almost destined to succeed Williams as the world's highest-paid female athlete," Forbes said, estimating her off-court earnings may increase tenfold over the next couple of years, from $1.5 million to more than $15 million a year.

With appearances on the "Today Show" and "Ellen," in the US, the past couple of days have been a whirlwind for Osaka.

But along with her composure, she has also kept her quirky sense of humor.

Asked by WTA Insider what she was most looking forward to after her life-changing victory, she joked: "I really want to eat green tea ice cream right now, so hopefully my life can change to eat green tea ice cream."

West Lafayette
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 75°
Kokomo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 69°
Rensselaer
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Crawfordsville
Broken Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 69°
Frankfort
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 67°
Delphi
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 74°
Monticello
Overcast
74° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 74°
Logansport
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 66°
Active Pattern Ahead
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 73287

Reported Deaths: 3036
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15701725
Lake7496275
Elkhart480184
Allen3835163
St. Joseph342381
Hamilton2723104
Vanderburgh192213
Hendricks1871108
Cass17869
Johnson1741118
Porter129439
Clark120247
Tippecanoe118911
Madison94365
LaPorte89430
Howard88465
Kosciusko84712
Bartholomew78047
Marshall77422
Floyd77246
Monroe74630
Delaware71452
Dubois68712
Boone67246
Noble66329
Hancock64738
Vigo61910
Jackson5855
Warrick57930
LaGrange55710
Shelby54627
Grant52630
Dearborn49628
Morgan46734
Clinton4303
Henry37620
Wayne36810
White36110
Montgomery35221
Lawrence34227
Decatur33532
Harrison32723
Putnam2868
Miami2692
Scott26610
Daviess26420
Greene24634
Franklin24114
Jasper2342
DeKalb2304
Jennings22412
Gibson2214
Steuben2073
Ripley1997
Fayette1867
Carroll1852
Perry18412
Starke1777
Posey1700
Orange16924
Wabash1653
Fulton1642
Wells1622
Jefferson1602
Knox1510
Whitley1516
Washington1391
Tipton1379
Spencer1313
Huntington1223
Newton11810
Randolph1184
Clay1165
Sullivan1131
Adams962
Jay910
Owen871
Pulaski791
Rush764
Brown731
Fountain732
Blackford632
Ohio635
Benton610
Pike530
Parke511
Vermillion490
Switzerland460
Crawford440
Martin430
Union390
Warren221
Unassigned0202

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events