There is no doubt that Naomi Osaka played one heck of a match and deserved her win at the U.S. Open this past Saturday. It is Osaka’s actions after the match that shined the brightest.
As a professional athlete, Osaka’s job is to compete and to win, but her character caused her to win gracefully and to leave 15 year old phenom ( and opponent) Coco Gauff with an experience that she will carry forever.
Too often, women are told that there can only be one “queen on the throne” - only one woman to outshine the rest, but the way Osaka treated Gauff once the match was over, was such an honor to witness. As the winner of the match Osaka was preparing to participate in an on-court interview as Gauff was packing up her belongings and heading to the locker room to confront the emotions of the match on her own. Osaka broke tradition, approached Gauff and asked her to join in the interview with her.
“It is better than going into the locker room crying…it’s better to let people know how you feel…” 21 year-old Osaka said to Gauff.
The best part about this interaction is that Osaka poured into Gauff at such a young age and right when her career is just beginning. This will enable Gauff to continue with this attitude and spirit when she faces younger (and older) opponents in the future.