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

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

Naomi Osaka: US Open champion's career in pictures

Photos:Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures

- After turning professional in September <stro />2013</strong>, Osaka made her WTA main-draw debut at the<strong> 2014 Bank of the West Classic</strong>. The then 16-year-old showed her promise by defeating former grand slam champion Samantha Stosur in her opening match. The eventual winner of that tournament? Serena Williams. ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911105712-naomi-osaka-2014-bank-of-the-west-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– After turning professional in September <strong>2013</strong>, Osaka made her WTA main-draw debut at the<strong> 2014 Bank of the West Classic</strong>. The then 16-year-old showed her promise by defeating former grand slam champion Samantha Stosur in her opening match. The eventual winner of that tournament? Serena Williams. </span></p>
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- Fast forward a year and the young Japanese player was beginning to work her way up the world rankings. She ended 2015 by winning the <stro />2015</strong> <strong>Rising Stars Invitational</strong> exhibition, defeating Caroline Garcia in the final.” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104406-naomi-osaka-2015-wta-rising-stars-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– Fast forward a year and the young Japanese player was beginning to work her way up the world rankings. She ended 2015 by winning the <strong>2015</strong><strong>Rising Stars Invitational</strong> exhibition, defeating Caroline Garcia in the final.</span></p>
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- Osaka reached her first grand slam at the <stro />2016</strong> <strong>Australian Open</strong>. The 18-year-old qualifier progressed to the the third round, before being roundly beaten by eventual winner Victoria Azarenka. Osaka went on to reach the third round at both Rolland Garros and the US Open later that year. ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104106-naomi-osaka-2016-australian-open-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– Osaka reached her first grand slam at the <strong>2016</strong><strong>Australian Open</strong>. The 18-year-old qualifier progressed to the the third round, before being roundly beaten by eventual winner Victoria Azarenka. Osaka went on to reach the third round at both Rolland Garros and the US Open later that year. </span></p>
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- Osaka finished <stro />2016</strong> by reaching her first WTA final. After being handed a wildcard to compete at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, the youngster (left) finished runner-up behind  Caroline Wozniacki (right). The successful year yielded rich rewards for Osaka. She broke into the world Top 50, signed a worldwide marketing agreement and was voted newcomer of the year at the WTA Awards. ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104518-naomi-osaka-2016-pan-pacific-open-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– Osaka finished <strong>2016</strong> by reaching her first WTA final. After being handed a wildcard to compete at the Toray Pan Pacific Open, the youngster (left) finished runner-up behind Caroline Wozniacki (right). The successful year yielded rich rewards for Osaka. She broke into the world Top 50, signed a worldwide marketing agreement and was voted newcomer of the year at the WTA Awards. </span></p>
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- Osaka built on her breakthrough 2016 by playing in all four grand slams in <stro />2017</strong>. Performing consistently on the biggest stage enabled the youngster to test herself against the world elite. Perhaps her most notable victory came in the first round of the <strong>2017 US Open</strong>. Osaka defeated defending champion Angelique Kerber in straight sets, before being knocked out in the third round. ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104616-naomi-osaka-2017-us-open-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– Osaka built on her breakthrough 2016 by playing in all four grand slams in <strong>2017</strong>. Performing consistently on the biggest stage enabled the youngster to test herself against the world elite. Perhaps her most notable victory came in the first round of the <strong>2017 US Open</strong>. Osaka defeated defending champion Angelique Kerber in straight sets, before being knocked out in the third round. </span></p>
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- After achieving her best grand slam finish at the 2018 Australian Open (fourth round), Osaka won her first WTA title at the <stro />2018 BNP Paribas Open</strong>, Indian Wells. She cemented herself as a future star with wins against former world No.1’s Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep on her way to victory. ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104740-naomi-osaka-2018-paribas-open-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– After achieving her best grand slam finish at the 2018 Australian Open (fourth round), Osaka won her first WTA title at the <strong>2018 BNP Paribas Open</strong>, Indian Wells. She cemented herself as a future star with wins against former world No.1’s Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep on her way to victory. </span></p>
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- In March <stro />2018</strong>, Osaka was pitted against her tennis hero for the first time, in the first round of the Miami Open. It was Serena’s fourth comeback match since giving birth and Osaka ran away with a comfortable straight sets victory.  ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104841-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– In March <strong>2018</strong>, Osaka was pitted against her tennis hero for the first time, in the first round of the Miami Open. It was Serena’s fourth comeback match since giving birth and Osaka ran away with a comfortable straight sets victory. </span></p>
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- The pair then met for a second time, at the <stro />2018</strong> <strong>US Open final. </strong>Serena was aiming for her 24th Grand Slam title and Osaka was competing in her first grand slam final.  Amid controversy involving her opponent and the umpire, the 20-year-old Japanese star deservedly won in straight sets for her biggest career win to date, earning $3.8 million in the process. ” data-src-mini=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-small-169.jpg data-src-xsmall=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-medium-plus-169.jpg data-src-small=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-large-169.jpg data-src-medium=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-exlarge-169.jpg data-src-large=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-super-169.jpg data-src-full16x9=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-full-169.jpg data-src-mini1x1=//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180911104914-naomi-osaka-2018-us-open-small-11.jpg data-eq-pts=”mini: 0,  xsmall: 221,  small: 308,  medium: 461,  large:  781″ src=data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhEAAJAJEAAAAAAP///////wAAACH5BAEAAAIALAAAAAAQAAkAAAIKlI+py+0Po5yUFQA7 data-cut-format=16:9></div>
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<p><span> Photos:</span><span>Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures </span></p>
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<p><span>– The pair then met for a second time, at the <strong>2018</strong><strong>US Open final. </strong>Serena was aiming for her 24th Grand Slam title and Osaka was competing in her first grand slam final. Amid controversy involving her opponent and the umpire, the 20-year-old Japanese star deservedly won in straight sets for her biggest career win to date, earning $3.8 million in the process. </span></p>
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<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>“Ultimately, you never know what you’re made out of until you’re tested,” Osaka’s coach, Sascha Bajin, told the New York Times.</p>
<p>“Naomi was thrown in there into deep water today,” said Baijin, who spent several years as the hitting partner of Williams. </p>
<p>“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.”</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.”</p>
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Cuomo slams double standard in tennis

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.”

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Women's Singles finals match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 08: Naomi Osaka of Japan poses with the championship trophy after winning the Women’s Singles finals match against Serena Williams of the United States on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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.”

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.”

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

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.