Twitter celebrated Naomi Osaka’s 2019 Australian Open victory, which was expected to push the 21-year-old tennis star to No. 1 in the world rankings on Monday morning.
Osaka edged Petra Kvitova 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 on Saturday night to win her second consecutive Grand Slam title. In September, Osaka beat Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final, which was plagued by controversy over the chair umpire docking a game from Williams after a heated argument.
She is the first woman to win consecutive grand slam titles since Williams did it in 2015. Osaka also became the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win her next tennis grand slam after winning her first major title.
Tennis’ new top women’s player said she feels a bit uneasy about becoming world No. 1.
“To be in this position feels a bit weird because I feel like, all of my life, I have been chasing people and chasing after the ranking,” she said at a post-match press conference. “It is a bit strange for me to say it like that, for it to be a leadership position. I know No. 1 is very difficult because people expect you to win all the time and you always have really hard matches because everyone wants to beat you. I feel like you should ask me after I have played my first match.”
Winning her match against Kvitova wasn’t easy. After holding a sizable lead, it appeared that Osaka might let the match slip through her fingers, the Associated Press said. After yelling at herself and slamming a ball for playing poorly during the match, she returned from a break in the locker room refocused.
“I felt like I didn’t want to have any regrets. I think if I didn’t regroup after the second set, then I would have looked back on this match and probably cried or something,” she said.
Osaka was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father. At age 3, she moved to New York and now holds dual citizenship. She was recently thrown into the middle of a racial controversy after a Japanese company that sponsors her admitted that it whitewashed her complexion in a new ad.
Osaka said Nissin apologized to her, but the tennis star appeared displeased that it even happened.
“I’m tan, it’s pretty obvious,” Osaka said in part after a match on Thursday.