Three-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has refused to be drawn into comparisons with Serena Williams.
Osaka’s big serve and powerful groundstrokes led many to compare her brand of aggressive tennis to the 23-time Grand Slam winning American.
“She’s more aggressive”: Naomi Osaka on Serena Williams
However, the reigning US Open champion said that she doesn’t agree to claims of similarities in her style of play to the veteran American.
In an interview with Vogue magazine, the Japanese tennis star said there are certain skills and qualities in Serena that set her apart from rivals in the women’s circuit.
“There’s a lot of things she is so much better at. She’s more aggressive, she knows when to go for her shots.
Sometimes she hits really big service returns, and I can’t do that at all,” Osaka said of the American, who she beat to clinch the women’s singles title at the 2018 US Open.
The Japanese scored her second win over Serena that year at the Miami Masters.
Osaka reveals she is shy when Serena is “10 feet away from me”
Despite holding a 2-1 lead over the American in head-to-head battles, Osaka said that Serena, as an opponent, could be intimidating.
Having won three Grand Slam titles, Naomi Osaka is en route on the path to…
“Honestly, I’m kind of scared of her. Not ‘scared’ scared but – I’m intimidated, and I get very shy when she’s like 10 feet away from me,” Osaka said.
Serena, in some ways, is the reason why the Japanese picked up the tennis racquet. Her father, a big Serena fan, pushed her into the game after watching the American in action.
Jogging back to the 2018 US Open final, Osaka revealed she was overawed by the American and had to shake off that feeling to eventually win the title.
Osaka reveals how she conquered her demons to upset Serena at US Open
“That really affected me at the US Open finals in 2018, but I had worked so hard for that moment, and I felt like if I were to be intimidated or show that I was scared of her, she would capitalize on that,” Osaka said.
Revealing how she fought the demons inside and eventually found the belief to upset Serena, Osaka said she set her inhibitions aside and focused herself on playing the ball more than the opponent.
“When I’m stepping on the court, I’ve to treat her as a tennis player, not as Serena Williams.
“I just blocked out all my emotions and thought about playing against the ball, like every ball that came across the net was my opponent,” Osaka said.
She also drew a good measure of confidence from her straight set win over the American in the final of the Miami Masters, an event which preceded the US Open.