The success of Serena Williams at the top level of tennis has been well-documented and fans are widely aware of what she has achieved on the court. However, she has never been on equal grounds with Naomi Osaka.
During the 2021 French Open, Naomi Osaka made it clear that she won’t be attending any press conference because she wants to take care of her mental health. Her decision was expected to suffer from criticism by the French Media and Roland Garros officials. However, Serena Williams fired a few shots filled with sarcasm at the Japanese tennis professional.
I am so sad about Naomi Osaka.I truly hope she will be ok. As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental & emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference. Good luck Naomi- we are all pulling for you!
— Martina Navratilova (@Martina) May 31, 2021
After a first-round win, just like she said, Osaka didn’t attend the press conference. Following that, she was fined $15,000. Following the fine, the Japanese withdrew from the clay-court Major. Thus, Williams didn’t hesitate in giving her opinion on the ongoing controversy at Stade Roland Garros.
Williams started by showing support for Osaka but then stated that ‘she has been in the position’ too. However, fans understood that the American was drawing a comparison and subtly suggesting that she was better.
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) May 31, 2021
“We should let her handle this in the way she wants to, and in the best way, she thinks she can… We have different personalities, everyone handles things differently.” Said Williams.
Phrases such as “she thinks she can” and “We have different personalities,” raised a lot of eyebrows over the 23-time Grand Slam winner. People on social media also pointed out Williams for throwing Shade over Osaka.
Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams head-to-head
Naomi Osaka as well as Serena Williams, are among the most powerful players in women’s tennis. Hence, a possible sourness was expected in the pair. Talking a look at their head-to-head records, they have squared off four times against each other in their professional careers.
They met first time at the Miami Open 2018, where the Japanese won the match easily with the scoreline of 6-3, 6-2. However, their most memorable fixture took place in September, where Osaka triumphed in her first Grand Slam title by defeating Williams in the final.
In the match, the American also got into a verbal altercation with the chair umpire, she also called the chair umpire a thief and a sexist. In 2019, the pair crossed paths in the Canadian Open, where Williams recorded her first-ever victory over the Japanese.
After a couple of years, Williams and Osaka again clashed at a hardcourt major, but this time, it was the Australian Open. However, the result was the same as the third seed defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals in order to secure a berth in the final.