Tomorrow isn’t just any US Open Final. Serena Williams—who’s going for her 24th record-tying Grand Slam title—will be competing against 20-year-old Naomi Osaka, who’s the first Japanese woman in history to ever reach a Grand Slam final. While both of these badass athletes are incredibly competitive, the match is about so much more than who wins. First of all, it’s the first US Open final between two women of color—whose last names are not “Williams,” that is (we see you, Venus). And these particular women are pretty magical.
It’s well-established that Williams is a queen way beyond the tennis court—with her activewear line, a (sporty as hell) beauty icon, and most recently, a paragon of motherhood realness. So of course, Osaka is a fan. Like, really a fan.
The message Osaka wanted to send Williams before they face off? “I love you.” Yeah, cue all the feels.
When Osaka was only a years old, Williams scored her very first Grand Slam win. And ever since she started her training as a young girl, Williams was someone she idolized, making this competition one that’s exciting for her on so many levels. In fact, after her semi-finals win, she was asked how she saved 13 break points against her—something that rarely happens in the tennis world—and had one simple answer: “I was just thinking I really want to play Serena.” And the message she wanted to send Williams before they face off? “I love you.” Yeah, cue all the feels.
Williams, on the other hand, will be enjoying the moment, too. In the one other time they’ve faced each other right after her maternity leave ended, Osaka won—and she definitely didn’t consider it to be one of her strongest matches with everything she was going through mentally and physically. “I can only go up from that match,” she said. So for Williams, the US Open Final is the chance to prove to herself just how powerful of an athlete she really is after all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into balancing her love of the game with her love for her daughter. And for Osaka, tomorrow is the combination of a lot of hard work and a longtime dream come true.
Basically, “must-watch” is an understatement.
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