Naomi Osaka on Sunday played down her fast rise into superstardom, believing 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams remains the “face of women’s tennis”.
The 23-year-old has made a significant splash on and off the court since beating a tempestuous Williams in an infamous US Open final in 2018.
Osaka has since added two more Grand Slam titles to her rising tally and the world number three is one of the favourites at the upcoming Australian Open, which she won two years ago.
The success has made her a firm favourite with fans and sponsors and the Japanese star last year surpassed Williams as the world’s highest paid female athlete after a slew of lucrative deals.
Despite her increasing fame and fortune — and prominent advocacy for racial injustice — Osaka believes the seven-time Australian Open champion is still the most influential player on the women’s circuit.
“As long as Serena’s here, I think she’s the face of women’s tennis,” Osaka said.