Most 21-year-olds would be out partying on a Saturday night, but then again most 21-year-olds don’t win the Australian Open women’s singles title.
Even so, that’s surely as good an excuse as any for a celebration in Melbourne. But even champions have mothers who know what’s best — and Naomi Osaka’s is no exception.
Speaking on the WTA Insider Podcast after her emotional 7-6 5-7 6-4 win over Petra Kvitova, Osaka revealed that her mum had one simple message for her on Saturday night.
“I called my mum after I did all the press,” Osaka told the podcast.
“She didn’t even say congratulations. She just yelled at me to go to sleep. So I felt really loved.”
Yep, that’s love for you. At least her sister gave a congratulations to Osaka after she took out her second grand slam title.
“And then I called my sister when I got back to the hotel and she was really happy for me,” Osaka said.
It’s great to know someone in the Osaka camp was happy because even after dispatching Kvitova in a match that played out as an emotional rollercoaster due to not only Osaka’s second set mini-collapse but also Kvitova’s own emotional story — as she made the big stage for the first time since nearly losing her career to a knife attack during a 2016 home invasion — Osaka looked more relieved than happy.
She addressed that in the podcast, suggesting it felt like she playing herself in “a computer game”.
“I was just thinking like woah,” Osaka said. “It felt really overwhelming. I didn’t feel like I would be in this position again so soon.
“I feel like for the past two years, all I really wanted to do was to be in the top 10 because I thought that’s how you make a name for yourself.
“To be in this position now is really unreal. I feel like I want to do well during the entire year and not just the hardcourt tournaments.”
The question for Osaka now is how good can she become?
At the end of this year’s grand slam tournaments she will still be 21. At that age Serena Williams, who she beat to claim her first slam at the US Open, had six slam titles.
While comparisons to Williams are probably futile, Osaka was typically understated when speaking of her future.
“My goal was of course to be the best tennis player that I can be. I don’t think everyone else can follow my path, everyone has their own paths. That’s what makes life interesting.”