Naomi Osaka: I started playing because of Serena Williams, she has built champions

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka revealed Serena Williams inspired her to start playing tennis. 

Williams, a former world No. 1, is one of the greatest players in tennis history, having won 23 Grand Slams. 

“If I were to retire from tennis, I would want people to remember me with how I acted towards people and like how I interacted,” she told HBO’s The Shop.

“Serena. Her legacy is more than her being Serena. I started playing because of her. I’m sure there’s so many other girls that started playing because of her, so she literally built champions.

“And I think passing it down is how the newer generations get inspired.”

Osaka set to soon return

Following a shock third round exit at the US Open, Osaka broke down in tears in press conference and said she would take another break. 

“You know, I’ve been playing tennis since I was three years old,” Osaka said on HBO’s ‘The Shop’. “For sure I love the sport. I know I’m gonna play again, probably soon because I kind of have that itch again.

“But it wouldn’t really matter to me if I won or lost. I’d just have the joy of being back on the court. Just to, like, you know, that I’m doing it for myself.”

Osaka admitted she lost the joy and happiness on the court over the last year. 

“I started to feel like that power was being taken away from me,” said the 23-year-old. “I wasn’t playing to make myself happy and I was more concerned about what would people say about me.

“I used to love the competition and just being competitive. Like if I were to play a long match, the longer it was the more fun it was for me. “And then I just started to feel – recently – the longer it was the more stressed out I became. But I just needed a break to go within myself.”

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