Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, claimed that Serena Williams motivated her to begin playing tennis. Williams, a former world No. 1, is regarded as one of the best tennis players of all time, having won 23 Grand Slam titles.
“If I were to retire from tennis, I would want people to remember me with how I acted towards people and like how I interacted,” she told HBO’s The Shop.
“Serena. Her legacy is more than her being Serena. I started playing because of her. I’m sure there’s so many other girls that started playing because of her, so she literally built champions.
“And I think passing it down is how the newer generations get inspired”.
“She literally built champions” @serenawilliams was her inspiration, so now it’s @NaomiOsaka’s turn to inspire the next tennis great 🎾 🏆#TheShop is back tonight at 9 PM on @HBOMax. pic.twitter.com/VsV6CxZtgl— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) September 24, 2021
Osaka may return soon
Following a shocking third-round exit at the US Open, Osaka sobbed in a news conference and said that she will take another vacation.
“You know, I’ve been playing tennis since I was three years old,” Osaka said.
“For sure I love the sport. I know I’m gonna play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again. But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost. I’d just have the joy of being back on the court.
“Just to, like, you know, that I’m doing it for myself.”
Over the previous year, Osaka stated that she has lost her joy and happiness on the court.
“I started to feel like that power was being taken away from me,” said the 23-year-old.
“I wasn’t playing to make myself happy and I was more concerned about what would people say about me.
“I used to love the competition and just being competitive. Like if I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me.
“And then I just started to feel – recently – the longer it was the more stressed out I became. But I just needed a break to go within myself.”