Osaka won the first grand slam title of her career on Saturday, defeating Serena Williams in straight sets. She becomes the first Japanese player to win a major since 1988 and is now one of only two women to hold all four major titles.
Naomi Osaka’s legacy still filled with hope despite tennis loss. The 20-year-old Japanese tennis player has been a shining light in the sport since she won the US Open last year.
Marketa Vondrousova put out the fire that started the Olympics, but Naomi Osaka’s Tokyo 2020 ambitions were doused much too quickly on Tuesday in little over an hour. With a flurry of unforced mistakes and mounting irritation, Osaka’s Games came to a close with a 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Vondrousova, the world No. 42 in tennis.
Against Vondrousova, Osaka seemed out of sorts the whole match, her serve failing to deliver the goods (winning just 25 of 43 points on her first serve). In comparison to Vondrousova’s 10, she committed 32 unforced mistakes.
When asked what went wrong later, she said: “Everything can be seen if you watch the match. I feel like there are a lot of things I used to depend on that I can’t count on anymore.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Osaka. Osaka, who was chosen to ignite the Olympic torch at the opening ceremony, was basically the face of these Games, which were going according to plan for the hosts, who were tied for the most gold medals with the United States.
Osaka had had an eight-week vacation before the event and had seemed so confident after wins over Zheng Saisai and Viktorija Golubic in the first two rounds, but it all came crashing down on Tuesday when Typhoon Nepartak slammed into the roof of Ariake Tennis Court.
The four-time Grand Slam winner has had a roller-coaster year in 2021. Osaka was the player to beat on the women’s circuit after winning the Australian Open in February. However, when the French Open arrived, she stated that she would be skipping the tournament’s press conferences due to mental health concerns.
She withdrew from Roland Garros after winning her first-round match and subsequently chose not to compete at Wimbledon in order to concentrate on taking home the gold medal for Japan.
Despite the fact that Naomi Osaka did not win a medal in the Tokyo Olympics, she achieved a lot off the court. Getty Images/Jamie Squire
“I certainly felt a lot of pressure coming into today,” Osaka remarked. “I believe it’s because I’ve never competed in the Olympics before, and it was a little overwhelming the first year. I believe I made the right decision in terms of how I played and taking that break.”
When Ash Barty, the world No. 1, was knocked out in the first round of the Olympics, it seemed like everything was set up for Osaka to continue Japan’s gold-medal winning streak at home.
Japan had won eight gold medals by the time Osaka entered the court on Tuesday: two in skateboarding, four in judo, and one each in swimming and table tennis. Osaka wanted to add another.
On the tennis court, there was a huge upset.
Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic beats Naomi Osaka in the third round. pic.twitter.com/HWQBj68Ewj #TokyoOlympics
— July 27, 2021, #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics)
That dream, however, did not come true. Vondrousova lost the first set in 24 minutes, and after saving three match chances in the second, her backhand flew wide, sending her to the quarterfinals.
“How dissatisfied am I? I mean, I’m upset with every defeat, but this one seems to sting a little more. I’m sure my expectations were much greater “According to Osaka. “I think my attitude wasn’t fantastic because I don’t know how to deal with such pressure, so that’s the best I could do in this circumstance.”
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While the defeat will undoubtedly upset Osaka, she has already established a significant legacy in her native nation off the court. The sight of her lighting the torch was a source of inspiration for a nation that had decided to have an Olympic Games despite the COVID-19 epidemic.
She has also helped to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness. She said in a self-penned article for TIME Magazine before the Games that she wanted to make Japan’s people “proud,” and that this didn’t have to mean winning a medal.