A star is born - GulfToday

A star is born

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka

When Billie Jean King says ‘How fortunate we all are to have witnessed the dawning of a new era in women’s tennis’, it’s time to take notice. And world number one Naomi Osaka is the one who is leading the charge in more ways than one (“Federer enters quarters; Barty bows out as Osaka thrashes tearful Gauff”, Sept.2 Gulf Today).

One of basketball greats Kobe Bryant also tweeted “Great match @CocoGauff and @Naomi_Osaka_ the future of the tennis is in great hands #USOpen.”

Last year, at the start of the US Open, the 20 year old Osaka was almost unknown outside tennis circles. But the two-time Grand Slam champion is now one of the highest-paid athletes in the world. But that is not the point Billie Jean and other star athletes are talking of. They are highlighting great sportsmanship coming to the fore. Osaka’s gesture of consoling her 15-year-old opponent and inviting her to speak to the crowd in a post-match interview is not only an outstanding gesture of compassion but shows her deep sense of respect for fellow players.

That the showdown was billed as “the future of women’s tennis” said it all. The world number one was pitted against the 140th ranked player. And that is why the result of the match is immaterial. What happened later proved who the winner was. In fact in Osaka’s words, both of them won.

“I wanted her to have her head high, not walk off the court sad. I want her to, like, be aware that she’s accomplished so much and she’s still so young,” said the Japanese Osaka adding “the both of us made it and are working as hard as we can.”

Gauff has a long way to go. But a star is born. The US Open is proving to be historic for Osaka also. It matters least whether she wins or she loses.

Ralph R
By email

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