The US Open has been going on in full force, where tennis players from all over the world are coming to battle it out head-to-head on the court for the grand prize of $3.85 million (1) and the title of being the best.
If you had a chance to watch some matches this last weekend, you may have seen the amazing game between Naomi Osaka (21 years old) and Coco Gauff (15 years old). Even though Osaka won the match, she decided to share her post-match interview with Gauff and even took a moment to shout out Gauff’s parents for doing such a good job raising an amazing player. “For me, the fact that both of us made it, and we’re both still working as hard as we can, I think it’s incredible,” Osaka said. “And I think you guys are amazing. Coco, you’re amazing.” (4).
When she first approached Gauff to share the moment with her, Coco replied that she didn’t want to because she would surely cry. Osaka’s response was that it would be better to cry in front of the audience than alone, in the locker room. Naomi shows that sharing the spotlight doesn’t take away from your own light and that emotion is just a part of the game.
In her earlier games this week, it was seen that some major names such as Kobe Bryant and Colin Kapernick were seen spectating from Osaka’s box. She managed to win that particular match rather quickly and was later quoted saying, “For me, it wasn’t pressure. It was just like I really didn’t want them to sit out in the sun too long, honestly. That was the thing on my mind. I was like, I really don’t want to play a third set.” (2). With a passion for the sport and a humble attitude, seeing how Osaka performs on and off the field is awe-inspiring.
Osaka went up against Serena Williams in the US Open last year and won. This did happen to be the match where Williams had a showdown with one of the umpires that was unfairly targeting her for what he thought were several code violations. Once Osaka won, there were collective boos heard from the crowd as it seemed like the game was stolen from Williams. Osaka tilted her cap downward and cried while Serena put her arm around her and tried to comfort her with kind words. Later, Williams issued a statement saying:
“Not only was a game taken from me but a defining, triumphant moment was taken from another player, something she should remember as one of the happiest memories in her long and successful career… As I said on the court, I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete. I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you. All my love and your fan, Serena.” (3)
For such a young player, Osaka has immense skill and the type of sportsmanship that requires a lifetime to acquire. A match between two, strong, black female players is the future the Williams’ sisters were trying to achieve. Osaka is making a name for herself and being an amazing role model that all players can look up to. It will be interesting to see how far she goes and what kind of legacy she will leave.