Naomi Osaka is a Grand Slam champion. At her first final, the 20-year-old became the first Japanese player, man or woman, to win a Major singles final after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Serena Williams.
The 2018 U.S. Open has been one for controversies, and the women’s singles final has made no exception. First came the extreme heat and the amateurism of the tournament in its management of the situation (which, if we are honest, could have had more serious consequences on the players than there have thankfully been). Then happened the Mohammed Lahyani episode when he came down his perch to give Nick Kyrgios a pep talk. On Saturday, what should have been the most joyous occasion of Naomi Osaka’s young life, her first Grand Slam title, was completely ruined by a temper tantrum from her opponent, Serena Williams.
We will not go into the details of what happened during the match, as we prefer focusing on the winner, and how amazingly she has played, not only during the final, but throughout all the tournament.
In the seven matches en route to her first Grand Slam coronation, the 20-year-old Japanese lost only one set (to Aryna Sabalenka) and a grand total of 34 games. She played a mature, composed game, managing to make her way triumphantly into the biggest of the realms: that of the Major champions.
In other words, she is a completely deserving champion and should be celebrated as such.
After the match, Naomi Osaka should have been celebrating with a big smile upon her face. Instead, she was almost apologetic when she went to see her ecstatic family to share the moment with them in the stands.
Afterwards, during the trophy ceremony, she was copiously booed by the crowd, as though she had been the one robbing the title away from Williams, when in fact, she played superbly and had earned everything that had befallen her, which is, her first Grand Slam crown.
Consequently (and in tears), she was the one who ended up apologising to the crowd. Something that she should never have done, but which shows just how big of a heart she has. Serena never apologised to Osaka for her behaviour, when she should’ve had.
Dear Naomi Osaka, you have nothing to apologise for. You are a true, a great champion. You are a fantastic athlete and an amazing person. You completely deserve that win, that trophy. More importantly, you deserved and have earned the right to celebrate it to the fullest.
Don’t apologise for being you.