5 Fast Facts About Naomi Osaka, Serena Williams’ US Open Finals Competition

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Serena Williams is just a match away from winning her first Gram Slam singles title since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia. The final round of the 2018 US Open takes place Saturday (Sept. 8), and her chances look strong. However, her competition is fierce.

Naomi Osaka will play against Williams in the finals. The US Open is Osaka’s first Grand Slam finals appearance. At just 20 years old, she is the first Japanese woman to go this far in this particular competition. This is also the second US Open finals in a row that’s featured two black women facing each other in the final round.

Read on to discover a little bit more about the young woman duking it out against the greatest athlete of all time later today at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 20-Year-Old Is Haitian And Japanese

Naomi’s father, Leonard Francois, was born in Haiti and her mother, Tamaki Osaka, is Japanese. As a result of their interracial relationship, Tamaki Osaka did not have contact with her family for over 10 years. As a matter of convenience due to being raised in Japan for a few years, all of Naomi’s siblings took their mother’s last name. However, they have U.S. citizenship and reside in Florida, and Naomi isn’t entirely fluent in Japanese.

 

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Played escape room with the family today. Everyone was exactly how I expected them to be 😩😂

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Her Sister Mari Osaka Is Also A Professional Tennis Player

The 22-year-old and her younger sister are already being compared to Venus and Serena Williams, However, Mari’s rise has been plagued by injury during the early years of her career.

Their father reportedly taught the girls to play tennis, and used the Williams’ sisters’ father Richard as a blueprint for how to teach them the sport. “The blueprint was already there,” Francois told The New York Times. “I just had to follow it.”

 

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Happy birthday to my sister/best friend/worst enemy 😩❤️🎂🎉🎊 @mari.osaka @ctrlsaregone you’re old now

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Naomi Began To Represent Japan In Competition At Age 13

According to reports, The United States Tennis Association had “little interest” in the Osaka sisters, since neither had a junior ranking or much experience on the competitive front. When Naomi was 13, her father decided to have his daughters represent the country they left when the tennis phenom was three.

This decision has affected how Naomi is perceived both in Japan and the U.S., however, she feels that she’s closer to Japan than America. “I don’t necessarily feel like I’m American,” she told the Times. “I wouldn’t know what that feels like.”

“Though some in the tennis world wondered whether the decision was influenced by commercial prospects…the family insists that the girls were too young and unproven for that to be a factor.”

Keeping With Japanese Custom, Naomi Bows To The Crowd

To show her support for her fans at the Australian Open in 2016, Naomi bowed to the audience after her winning match against Elina Svitolina. She continued the custom as her appearances and wins amplified.

“Yeah, it’s the only part of my Japanese side,” she said of the gesture. “Kind of because there were a lot of people cheering for me, and I kind of wanted to show how grateful I was. I always think that they’re surprised that I’m Japanese. So the fact that there was like Japanese flags and stuff, it was, like, really touching.”

 

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Wow.

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She Loves Serena Williams

I mean…who doesn’t? But during an interview after her victory over Madison Keys in Thursday’s semi-final (Sept. 6), Osaka was asked if she had any words for Ms. Williams before their big square-off on Saturday. Simply and adorably put, Naomi said she “loves” Serena.

Additionally, when asked about her driving influence behind the win? “This is gonna sound really bad, but I was just thinking I really want to play Serena,” she told reporters with a smile.