Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka seeking ‘dream’ end to fairytale US Open run

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka seeking ‘dream’ end to fairytale US Open run
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For Serna Williams, victory at the US Open would earn her not only a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam. (AFP)
Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka seeking ‘dream’ end to fairytale US Open run
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For Serna Williams, victory at the US Open would earn her not only a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam. (AFP)
Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka seeking ‘dream’ end to fairytale US Open run
3 / 3
For Serna Williams, victory at the US Open would earn her not only a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam. (AFP)
Updated 07 September 2018

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka seeking ‘dream’ end to fairytale US Open run

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka seeking ‘dream’ end to fairytale US Open run

NEW YORK: Saturday’s US Open final is a fairytale story for both players featuring in the Flushing Meadows showpiece.
The match will be the fulfilment of Naomi Osaka’s childhood dream of facing Serena Williams in a Grand Slam final.
For Williams, victory would earn her not only a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam, but her first since giving birth to her daughter last year.
Osaka told her opponent “I love you,” just moments after she became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final.
The 20-year-old breakout star of the tournament swept into the record books and Saturday’s championship match against the 23-time Grand Slam winner with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Madison Keys, the runner-up in 2017.
When asked on court what she told herself as she served for the match, she said: “Don’t double fault.”
“Why,” asked the interviewer. “Serena,” replied the charismatic Osaka. “I love you, Serena,” she added before adding “I love you, mom; I love everybody.”
Osaka, the 20th seed, has met and defeated Williams once — at Miami in March.
That win came just a week after she had lifted her first top-level trophy at the prestigious Indian Wells event in California.
“It still feels a little bit surreal. Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam,” she said.
“Just the fact that it’s happening, I’m very happy about it. At the same time I feel like even though I should enjoy this moment, I should still think of it as another match.
“Yeah, I shouldn’t really think of her as, like, my idol. I should just try to play her as an opponent.”
Serena, however, will be playing in her 31st Grand Slam final and ninth at the US Open where she is a six-time champion.
When the American, 16 years her senior, won her first US Open in 1999, Osaka was not yet two years old.
“When you just come back and then you make the finals of two slams, I think that’s really amazing,” added Osaka in reference to Williams’s runner-up spot at Wimbledon in July.
Whatever happens in the final, Osaka said she will remain a fan of the American who is chasing Margaret Court’s record, just a year after giving birth and undergoing four post-natal surgeries.
“It is really incredible. A year ago I was literally fighting for my life at the hospital after having the baby,” said Williams after beating Anastasija Sevastova in her semifinal.
“Every day I step out on this court I am so grateful to have an opportunity to play this sport. So no matter what happens in any match, I already feel like I have already won.
“This is just the beginning. I’m only a few months in and really looking forward to the rest of the year and next year,” Williams added.
“I just feel like there’s a lot of growth still to go in my game. That’s actually the most exciting part.
“Even though I’m not a spring chicken, I still have a very, very bright future.”