In a rare defeat, Serena Williams lost in straight sets at the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday. So who beat one of the best athletes of our time? Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka.
The up-and-comer, whose idol just happens to be Williams, handed the Nike superstar her first-ever loss before the fourth round in the Miami tournament. (Osaka represents Japan in tennis tournaments. She resides in Florida.)
“I kind of wanted to impress her,” Osaka said in her post-match interview. “I was extremely nervous coming on the court. I don’t know if anyone knows this, but Serena is my favorite player. Just playing against her is kind of like a dream for me, so I’m very grateful, and it’s even better that I was able to win.”
Osaka, an Adidas athlete, is proving to be one to beat. She earned her first WTA singles title at Indian Wells just five days ago.
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In her match against Williams, Osaka dressed in black and red Adidas gear, wearing the brand’s Adizero Ubersonic 3.0 shoes.
She is ranked 22nd, while Williams’ ranking is 491st, which has become a debate all on its own. Because Williams entered the Miami Open unseeded after having 13 months off following the birth of her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Williams could face almost anyone in the first round, thus drawing the Indian Wells Champion Osaka.
Ahead of the match, Miami Open tournament director James Blake had his own opinion on the matter. “For someone who goes on maternity break, they should be protected. These kind of things shouldn’t happen. She has won this title so many times that she needs protection,” Blake said in an interview with AFP. “It’s not as if she left because of injury and lost her passion for the game. She had a kid, which we should all be celebrating, so when she comes back, there should be a grace period where she can still be seeded.”
As for Osaka, she faces No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina on Friday.
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