Naomi Osaka won her second US Open women's singles title after defeating Victoria Azarenka in the final on Saturday, September 12 in Flushing Meadows, New York. Osaka came back strong and pulled out a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 final scoreline after losing miserably in the first set.
Osaka is now on an 11-match winning streak, not counting how she lost the Western and Southern Open final via walkover against Azarenka in the same venue just two weeks ago. Osaka withdrew from the final after suffering a hamstring injury. The event, which is typically held in Cincinnati, USA, was moved to New York this year as a warm up to the US Open and as a way to ensure a safe, bio secure bubble for all the participants.
After last night's victory, Osaka reflected on the current situation with the raging pandemic and its effects on athletes and the sporting world.
"The quarantine definitely gave me a chance to think a lot about things, what I want to accomplish, what I want people to remember me by," said Osaka, as quoted by the BBC.
She says that it has been an important few months, with much of the world being ravaged by the coronavirus. On top of that, social justice protests have also broken out in the United States and other parts of the world following recent incidents of police brutality against African Americans.
Osaka has been very vocal about her social justice stance, and even chose to boycott her semi-final at the Western and Southern Open. A compromise with the organisers was later reached and she was eventually allowed to play.
However, everyone is focused on how Osaka has claimed another title in New York under very different circumstances. It may be remembered that her first victory at the US Open in 2018 left her in miserable tears.
"This win feels different overall because of the circumstances I'm under. I wasn't in a bubble last time. There were a lot of fans last time," she said. Those fans became very hostile towards her after her opponent, Serena Williams, had several heated arguments with the chair umpire during the match. The crowd became agitated and started to turn their frustrations against Osaka. Even at the awarding ceremony, as she received her trophy, US Open officials blatantly expressed their disappointment at Williams' defeat.
This time around, there were no fans in the stands. The stadium may have been empty but the victory was full of vindication. After also winning the Australian Open in 2019, Osaka has proven that she is not just a fluke Grand Slam titlist.