Naomi Osaka has opened up on her relationship with Serena Williams, two months after the drama in the US Open final.
Ahead of the season-ending WTA finals in Singapore, Osaka was asked how she felt about Serena following her meltdown at Flushing Meadows.
Many commentators and fans felt Serena had taken the shine off Osaka’s historic victory, becoming the first Japanese player in tennis history to win a grand slam.
But on Monday, Osaka shot down that line of thought and revealed how she has no ill-will for Serena.
“My whole life she’s someone I’ve looked up to so that’s not going to change,” Osaka told Reuters.
Fame won’t affect her game
Osaka admitted she is still grappling with her newfound stardom but believes the overwhelming attention won’t affect her game in Singapore.
Osaka has received several lucrative endorsement deals and featured prominently in the media, including an appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in the US.
Osaka said her life had changed since the US Open but vowed to remain focused on tennis.
“With the recognition part, I do feel a bit different,” she told reporters in Singapore.
“Like before it was only Japan I felt like people knew me. But now like… in the airports and stuff… I just think that’s (the attention) kind of funny.
“For me, I can’t change who I am. I haven’t really thought about changing my personality. I just focus on my matches, so I just play tennis and I leave the rest up to everyone that I trust.”
Since winning in New York, the World No.4 has fallen short in Tokyo and Beijing. At the China Open, she required treatment to her lower back during her semi-final defeat to unseeded Anastasija Sevastova.
But Osaka has a chance to finish a memorable year on a high in Singapore.