You are only a first-time major singles champion once, of course.
Photos:Naomi Osaka: US Open champion’s career in pictures
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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)
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.