NEW YORK – Naomi Osaka told US Open title opponent Serena Williams “I love you” just moments after she became the first Japanese woman to reach a Grand Slam final.
The 20-year-old breakout star of the tournament swept into the record books and Saturday's championship match against the 23-time major winner with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Madison Keys, the runner-up in 2017.
When asked on court what she told herself as she served for the match, she said: “Don't double fault”.
“Why,” asked the interviewer. “Serena,” replied the charismatic Osaka.
“I love you, Serena,” she added before adding “I love you, mom; I love everybody”.
Osaka, the 20th seed, has met and defeated Williams once - at Miami in March.
Keys had beaten Osaka three times out of three before Thursday's semi-final but the 14th seed admitted she had been completely over-powered.
“I thought I could get a break but every time she would hit an ace or a big shot,” said the 23-year-old.
“It was difficult. You think she's going to let up but she didn't. She was very impressive.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP)