This weekend the Australian Open came to a close. As expected, the winner of the womens Australian Open was Naomi Osaka. With this win, Osaka now has four grand slam titles. However, it really seemed like she won the tournament before the championship match even started. With Osaka’s win, you can’t help but ask, has the Naomi Osaka era begun?
2018 US Open
The 2018 US Open will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Osaka was robbed of her magic moment. She had just defeated Serena Williams to win her first grand slam title. That should be the headline story. Not only was this her first grand slam title, she had to take down Serena Williams in order to win it. Plus, Osaka became the first Japanese born player to win a grand slam title. All of this should be talked about. Instead, it’s not. Instead, the headlines are about Serena.
Chair ump Carlos Ramos was under the impression that Serena Williams was cheating. Willaims’ coach gave a thumbs up to Serena after a long back and forth with Osaka. Ramos took this as a coaching violation which led Williams to explain what was happening. She said that she wasn’t cheating and said that she’d rather lose than cheat. After that, Ramos was making wildly inaccuate calls against Williams which was helping Osaka win. Williams went into a tirade and lashed out agaisnt Ramos. The crowd was behind Williams as well. In the end, Osaka won the match 6-2, 6-4. During the trophy presentation, fans were booing until Williams told them to stop and celebrate Osaka’s first ever grand slam. Osaka even apolgised in her interview for beating Williams and that she didn’t want her first win to be like the way it was.
After her win grand slam win, Osaka entered the Pan Pacific Open where she reached the finals. After losing in the finals she entered the Premier Mandatory China Open where she reached the semi-finals. Since she had three consecutive deep runs in tournaments, she closed out 2018 being the fourth ranked player on the womens side. This was setting thing’s up for a big 2019.
2019 Australian Open
Osaka began the year as the Australian Open champion. This time there was no controversy, only dominance. Osaka showed her dominance against her opponent Petra Kvitova. Even though Kvitova had saved championship point in back to back service games, Osaka in the end would win the match and the Australian Open. With this win, she became the world number one player. However, after the Australian Open, she struggled. She lost in every tournament after that, including having to withdraw from the Stuttgart Open and Italian Open due to injury. She wouldn’t win again until Pan Pacific Open and the Premier Mandatory China Open. Despite everything, she finished off the year as the number three player in the world.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, Osaka only competed in four tournaments. Osaka lost in the first two she competed in, but then would go on to win the Cincinnati Open and the US Open. However, her activism will forever be remembered during both the US Open and Cincinnati Open. Osaka opted to withdraw from the Cincinnati Open after the shooting of Jacob Blake. Instead, the tournament was suspended for a day in support of Osaka’s decision which led to Osaka to come back and win the tournament. During the US Open, everytime she walked onto the court, she wore a black mask with the name of a person who was a victim of police brutality. She wore these masks because she wanted people to start talking. Osaka’s activism by wearing these masks will forever be one of my favorite moments in the 2020 tennis season.
2021 Australian Open
Over the weekend, Osaka won the first grand slam event of the year. She showed off nothing but dominance. In the semi finals, she met Serena Williams. After dropping the first two games of the opening set, Osaka woke up and made quick work of Williams. She would then go on to the finals and defeat Jennifer Brady. Osaka was straight up dominant in this tournament. She set the tone of what her 2021 season is going to look like.
Has the Naomi Osaka era begun? Yes. Yes it has. Osaka is face of women’s tennis and we are seeing the rise of a tennis star. Without a doubt, she will be the number one player by the end of the year. With her win this past weekend, she is currently ranked number two. If Wimbledon happens this year and she wins it, she no doubt will be the number one player in the world. There hasn’t been a woman as dominant as Serena Williams, but possibly we are looking at someone who quite possibly could be just as good or even better than Williams. Yes, Osaka is that good of a tennis player.
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-Matt Burnett (@mattthew_jordan on Twitter)