Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka said she felt comfortable being a role model for the next generation after her fourth Grand Slam victory solidified her position at the forefront of a new era for tennis.
But the Japanese star, a four-time major-winner at the age of just 23, insisted America’s Serena Williams, 39 — who has 23 Slam crowns — remains the face of the women’s game.
Osaka beat America’s Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 in the Australian Open final on Saturday to win her fourth Slam from the last eight in which she has played, and extend her year-plus winning streak to 21 matches.
She joins Monica Seles and Roger Federer in winning her first four major finals, and will move up to second in the world rankings.
Her sweeping triumph was viewed as heralding a shift in women’s tennis with Australia’s Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik declaring it a “changing of the guard”, while the New Yorker said Osaka was the “most thrilling athlete of her generation”.
Osaka brushed aside Williams in the semis, after also beating her in the stormy 2018 US Open final to win her first major.
But when asked if she was now taking over from Williams as the game’s leading light, Osaka replied: “No, not at all,” adding that she simply wanted to remain true to herself.
“I have learned on-and-off the court it’s okay to not be sure about yourself,” she said.
“I’m more at peace with where I am, and I’m honestly just happy to be playing a Grand Slam in a pandemic.”
Growing as a person
After winning her second Australian Open title, Osaka spent a lengthy time signing autographs for fans in a gesture that received widespread applause on social media.
Having once grappled with fame as a shy youngster, a content Osaka said she was still “growing as a person” but hoped to provide inspiration to young players.
“In the past I felt it as a very strong responsibility, and I was also very scared and nervous of it,” she said.
“It’s a really big honour that there are little kids that like me, that come to my matches and cheer for me.
“But at the same time, I don’t weigh it too heavily on myself.”
A more mature Osaka, who says she gained greater perspective during tennis’s coronavirus shutdown, said she now appreciated the difficulty of winning a Grand Slam.
“I feel like I know how much hard work you have to put into this, because the first time that I have won both these trophies I think, in a way, I was just a kid,” she said, referring to her wins at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.
“I didn’t really know what I was doing.”
Her win prompted celebrations in Japan, where she will play the Tokyo Olympics this year, while Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi tweeted his congratulations from the International Space Station.
“There are many Japanese fans who are very excited now that Naomi has won the Australian Open,” Japan’s 58th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka told AFP ahead of next week’s ATP Singapore Open.
“I’m sure they will be following the progress of Japanese players in more tennis tournaments around the world.”
But Osaka said her biggest goal wasn’t Grand Slam titles, an Olympic medal or returning to world number one.
“I feel like the biggest thing that I want to achieve is… hopefully I play long enough to play a girl that said that I was once her favourite player,” she said.
“For me, I think that’s the coolest thing that could ever happen to me… Unfortunately I didn’t get to play Li Na, but, I just think that that’s how the sport moves forward.”
Newcastle United agree N3.4b deal for Victor Osimhen
Super Eagles and Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, has reportedly agreed personal terms with English Premier League side, Newcastle United hoping to join them before the end of the summer transfer window, according to report on respected Italian media outlet, La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The deal is reportedly worth twice the amount (4.5m euro) he’s presently earning at Napoli that amounts to N3.4 billion in Nigerian currency.
Further cementing his spot as the highest earning Nigerian player in Europe.
Newcastle United is however yet to agree a deal with Napoli over his transfer fee with the Serie A side holding out for a transfer fee in the region of around 100 million before they can sanction any deal.
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It was gathered that the idea of asking for a 100 million is due largely to the fact that 30% of whatever is gotten from the sale of the forward will go to his former club, Lille as agreed in the deal that’s aw him join Roma two seasons ago.
Similarly, Manchester United is willing to pay Osimhen ₦75million in wages per week if he agrees to join them this summer.
Osimhen has been the subject of numerous transfer talks. Top Premier League sides Liverpool, Arsenal, Newcastle United, and Manchester United have all been linked with a move for the Napoli talisman.
According to teamtalk, Ten Hag wants to bring Osimhen to Manchester. Manchester United faces a challenging task luring the Nigeria international, but the club is looking to entice Osimhen by doubling his current earnings.
Teamtalk reports that Osimhen would earn £146,000(₦75million) per week if he joins the former Premier League champions.
Just in: Jose Peseiro confirmed Super Eagles head coach
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed Jose Peseiro as the new head coach of the Super Eagles.
He replaces Austin Eguavoen who was drafted from the technical team to step before the last Africa nations cup after Gernot Roh was sacked.
Paseiro’s appointment is coming months after an initial deal fell through.
His appointment was confirmed in a statement released by the federation on Sunday.
Todd Boehly is new owner of Chelsea FC
Chelsea football club has agreed to a £4.25bn ($5.2bn) sale term of the club to a consortium led by Todd Boehly, co-owner of the LA Dodgers baseball team.
The club was put up for sale before owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned for his alleged links to Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.
A Chelsea statement said the new owners will pay £2.5bn for the club’s shares. The proceeds will go into a frozen bank account to be donated to charity.
It was in 2019 when Boehly tried to buy the club off Roman Abramovich but a £2.2bn bid was rejected. This approach came shortly after Abramovich decided to withdraw his application for a UK visa and also amid halted progress on Stamford Bridge’s redevelopment.
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The new consortium is led by Boehly but Clearlake Capital, a Californian private equity firm, will own a majority of the shares in Chelsea.
Other investors include US billionaire Mark Walter, also a co-owner of the LA Dodgers, and Swiss billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss.
BBC Sport reports the new owners have agreed to not sell a majority stake in the club until 2032 and have given assurances over dividends and debt.
The consortium said it will provide £1.75bn to invest in the Premier League club, including “investments in Stamford Bridge, the academy, the women’s team and Kingsmeadow and continued funding for the Chelsea Foundation”.
In the statement, Chelsea said the sale was expected to complete in late May. The takeover will require approval from the English football authorities and the UK government.
Chelsea are operating under a special licence from the UK government which ends on 31 May, but last month, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the club were on “borrowed time” to complete the sale.
Any sale can only be signed off by the bidder passing the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test.
Todd Boehly was pictured with Chelsea fans outside Stamford Bridge on Friday. Also in the photo is former Chancellor George Osborne, whose firm has signed onto the Boehly bid in an advisory capacity.
Boehly, an American investor and businessman, has a reported net worth of $4.5bn (£3.6bn), according to Forbes.
He is a part owner of the Dodgers – a US baseball franchise – and US women’s basketball outfit the Los Angeles Sparks, and owns a stake in the renowned LA Lakers NBA franchise.
His consortium also includes American PR executive Barbara Charone, British businessman Jonathan Goldstein and British journalist Daniel Finkelstein.
Other consortiums who had been in the running to buy Chelsea have been headed by Sir Martin Broughton and the co-owner of the Boston Celtics, Stephen Pagliuca, but they were told in late April that their bids were unsuccessful.
British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe – majority shareholder of chemical group Ineos – made a late offer, but it arrived on 29 April, several weeks beyond the initial deadline for bids of 18 March.
Ratcliffe’s bid was dismissed but he said on 4 May that he was “not giving up”.
On Thursday, Abramovich said he has not asked for his £1.5bn loan to Chelsea to be repaid when the club is sold.
A spokesperson said Abramovich “remains committed” to making sure the proceeds from the sale “go to good causes”.
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