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"Playing a Slam is a super privilege right now & it’s something I won’t take for granted" - Naomi Osaka after Australian Open win

Naomi Osaka with the 2021 Australian Open trophy
Naomi Osaka with the 2021 Australian Open trophy
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 20 Feb 2021
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Naomi Osaka defeated Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday to win the 2021 Australian Open women's singles title, the fourth of her career. The victory has extended her unbeaten streak to 21 matches, and also moved her back to No. 2 in the WTA rankings.

Speaking on court during the presentation ceremony, Naomi Osaka thanked the fans profusely for coming out for the final. More than 7,000 fans were allowed into Melbourne Park for the match, making it among the largest crowds at a tennis match since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last March.

Naomi Osaka's last Grand Slam title came in September at the US Open, the final of which was played behind closed doors. That was something the Japanese player highlighted in particular during her victory speech.

"I wanna thank you guys," Osaka said. "Thank you for coming and watching. It feels really incredible for me. I didn’t play my last Grand Slam with fans so just to have this energy it really means a lot. Thank you so much for coming."
"Thank you for opening your hearts and your arms towards us," she added. "For sure, I feel like playing a Grand Slam right now is a super privilege right now and it’s something I won’t take for granted. Thank you for this opportunity."

Osaka went on to thank the officials for making the event possible amid some of the most challenging circumstances for any tournament organizer in recent history.

"Thank you to the ball kids, the volunteers, Craig Tiley, the Tournament Director, everyone for making this tournament possible and hopefully we will be back next year so thank you guys so much," Osaka went on.

Naomi Osaka has now won the Australian Open and the US Open twice each

Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady
Naomi Osaka and Jennifer Brady
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With her win on Saturday, Naomi Osaka has now won four of the last nine Slams on the women's tour - including the 2020 French Open, which she did not play.

Saturday's triumph marked her second Australian Open title, after her win in 2019. To add to that, she has also won two US Open titles (2018 and 2020).

Naomi Osaka has also become the 16th WTA player in the Open Era to win four Grand Slam singles titles. A fifth career Slam would take her to tied 11th in the Open Era list, along with Maria Sharapova and Martina Hingis.

Published 20 Feb 2021, 17:37 IST
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