Naomi Osaka put together a major performance on Wednesday evening to defeat Serena Williams and earn a spot in the Australian Open Championship. Osaka won 6-3, 6-4 and extended her winning streak to 20 matches. She was also able to improve her record against Serena Williams to 3-1. After the match, Williams praised Osaka's play and called her a "very strong" opponent.
"I feel like she does everything well, she has a good serve, she has a great return, she's strong on both sides," Williams said.
Osaka returned the compliment by applauding Williams for paving the way for her to reach these heights. She has long referred to Osaka as a role model and an inspiration.
"I don't know if there's any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play and just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream," Osaka said.
While Osaka applauded Williams for her continued greatness, rumors began to swirl about her and her sister's retirement. Over the course of more than 20 years, Williams has won 87% of her Grand Slam tournament matches and brought home 23 Grand Slam titles. In recent years, Williams has struggled in Grand Slam tournament finals, losing six of the last eight. Concerns about her play grew after Williams amassed 24 errors in her match against Osaka, the most of any match she's played in recent memory. After the match, Williams was asked about possibly retiring from tennis.
"If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone," she told reporters when asked about retirement.
"I don't know ... I'm done," she said when asked about the errors she piled up during her match.
Bombarded with questions, Williams walked away from the press conference in tears. Despite her play in the 2021 Australian Open, she is still well within reach of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles. She currently has 23 titles and will have an opportunity to win her 24th in May at the French Open. On Saturday, Osaka will have an opportunity to win her fourth Grand Slam title against Jennifer Brady in the 2021 Australian Open Final.
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