February 20, 2021
Naomi Osaka clinched her fourth Grand Slam title and second Australian Open to underline why most people think she is now the best player in the world.
The Hardcourt Queen of Tennis is also the highest-earning sportswoman on the planet.
In Melbourne she showed why, with her loveable grit and cool. Everything flows from her unique personality. Riches beyond anyone’s wildest dreams are the reward for her integrity and power.
Osaka is said to be making nearly $40 million-a-year. She can probably expect to double that annual salary in the next year or two if she carries on like this.
Naomi is a global superstar and inspirational campaigner for racial equality. It’s impossible not to admire her. She is a credit to tennis and to sport in general. She has earned her place at the top of the pile.
In a brutal world, Osaka hasn’t just held onto her principles – she is achieving greatness partly because of them.
This is a heart-warming story. Winners don’t always have to be selfish and exclusively ruthless. Nice people also sometimes finish first.
That’s not to say that Osaka lacks a certain cold inner steel. She couldn’t survive at the top of tennis without it.
But money won’t mean everything to Osaka. The influence her success buys is probably infinitely more precious to her.
Still, to the victor the spoils in Australia – and deservedly so. Who doesn’t love winning a trophy? This is becoming a habit for the Japanese jewel.
Osaka doesn’t lose Grand Slam finals and she is suitably celebrated.
It seems a very long time since she had to save two match points against the former Wimbledon champion, Garbine Muguruza earlier in the tournament.
Fine margins. Fighting spirit. The difference between success and failure.
But the new superstar of women’s tennis knows she isn’t the finished article just yet – not by a long stretch.
This year Osaka faces a fresh challenge. Can she master grass and go deep at Wimbledon 2021?
She has it all to prove and who can doubt her ability to become the complete player?
Last time she fell at the first Wimbledon hurdle. But that was two years ago and Naomi is so much more mature now.
She doesn’t need to be scared of grass any more. She is too strong to entertain such psychological frailties.
And that’s great news for Wimbledon fans who want to see this iconic superstar go all the way.
Wimbledon 2021 could be Naomi Osaka’s Wimbledon if she really wants it.
Her second Australian Open triumph wasn’t quite as straight forward as it sounds.
Jennifer Brady definitely had her moments and luck was against her when it mattered in the first set.
Osaka benefited from two mishits, one at break point and another to give her set point.
Somehow she landed both shots and put her opponent under extreme pressure.
But Brady had a wonderful chance to repel that set point with a simple forehand. Instead she tightened and only found the net.
It was a key moment in the match.
The American never quite recovered. Before she knew it, she was 0-4 down in the second.
The enthusiastic crowd was thrilled to see feisty Brady fight her way back to a respectable scoreline. But there was only going to be one winner by then.
Osaka knew she had been tested. She said to Brady: ‘I told everyone who would listen that you were going to give me a problem and I was right.
‘I think we’re going to play a lot more matches, so here’s to that. My team are like my family, this one’s for you.
‘I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans. So just to have this energy, it means a lot. Thank you for giving your hearts and opening your arms to us.’
And that’s exactly what the fans will do at Wimbledon 2021. It’s not long now before we all get to return to the home of tennis to enjoy the most prestigious Grand Slam of all.
American visitors to London will know that, in Brady, they have another great player to follow, as well as the great Serena Williams.
Jenny is also a great speaker. She said of Naomi: ‘She’s such an inspiration and I hope young girls are inspired by her and what she’s doing. It was special to play in front of fans in my first Grand Slam final. Hopefully there will be many more.’
After showing such generosity in that painful moment of defeat, we hope so too.
We can’t wait to welcome Jennifer Brady to Wimbledon 2021. But Osaka could be set to shine brightest.