“The Greatest Force in Sport”

NEW YORK – Four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has appreciated Serena Williamswho says she was “the greatest force in the sport” and leaves a legacy so broad “that words can’t even describe it.”

Osaka opens their US Open campaign against it DanielleCollins on Tuesday and knows the place well, having won it in 2018 and 2020. But before that, Osaka will be one of the millions watching Williams as she is confronted Thank you Kovinic on Monday at what is expected to be the last US Open by Serena.

“I think her legacy is so rich that even words cannot describe it,” Osaka said on Saturday. “She changed the sport so much. She introduced the sport to people who had never heard of tennis. I think I’m a product of what she did.

“I wouldn’t be here without Serena, Venus, her whole family. I am very grateful to her.

“I was also trying to figure out how to put it into words. I honestly think she’s the greatest force in the sport. It’s not a deliberate attempt to do it that way [Roger] Federer or [Rafael] Nadal smaller. I just think it’s the greatest thing there will ever be in sport. It’s really an honor to see them play.”

Osaka faced Williams four times, winning three of those games. They met in Miami in 2018, where Osaka won 6-3, 6-2, and next met in the 2018 US Open final. Osaka won their first slam 6-2, 6-4. They would meet twice more, with Williams winning in Toronto in 2019 but Osaka winning their last meeting in the Australian Open semifinals in 2021.

Williams announced in an essay for Vogue on Aug. 9 that she plans to “move away from tennis.” That announcement came just a day after their blow Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in the first round of the Canadian Open. Osaka was a spectator in Toronto that day watching Williams.

“For some reason, I just started crying because I felt it,” Osaka said. “I felt like when I played her in Australia, people said, ‘This is the last time she’s in Australia. I thought, damn, I really don’t want that to be true.

“I felt like she was getting ready for her last US swing. I just started crying. Then she announced it a day later. I said, ‘Oh my god, this must be what devastation feels like.’ Yes, it’s really an honor just to see them keep playing.”

And Osaka said it’s hard to put into words what Williams’ legacy in tennis is, but praised her for breaking down barriers.

“If you look at everyone who has our skin color, we clearly followed her. I also think she’s very interested in tech as a business, so I think anyone who follows or tries to follow this will clearly be under her influence. Overall, culturally and stylistically, she was the first to have her own lineage and stuff.

“There were definitely a lot of barriers that she certainly had to fight to overcome. We can easily get through this now because of her. … I’m pretty sure she did a lot of things that I don’t know, but it will be interesting to see.

“I know she didn’t call it retirement, she called it evolution, which I think is really cool. I feel like the term ‘retirement’ means the end of something. But since she says ‘evolution’. it means like a continued journey.”

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