KEY POINTS

  • Naomi Osaka is becoming bigger than Serena Williams, a report suggests
  • Osaka had earlier said that Williams is still the biggest name in the sport
  • The four-time Grand Slam champ revealed her plans for this year

Despite insisting Serena Williams is still the most celebrated player in women’s tennis, Naomi Osaka is believed to have already been eclipsing her “idol.”

At the mere age of 23, Osaka has undoubtedly made her mark in women’s tennis. Like most of the younger players in the sport, she too looks up to Williams. However, some are already convinced that the world No. 2 has now become a better version of the tennis legend.

Raving about Osaka’s rise to superstardom, renowned columnist Caitlin Thompson, who writes for Discovery-owned outlet Eurosport and Men’s Journal, stressed that the four-time Grand Slam champion was indeed inspired by Williams’ legacy. However, she also implied that Osaka, in her own way, is now becoming more impactful than the 39-year-old.

“While [Serena] Williams transcended the sport of tennis, becoming a household name as the winningest (at least by grand slam count) celebrity the game has produced, Osaka is bringing the sport with her into other realms, building off of Williams' tremendous work but making it her own,” Thompson said in her recent piece published by Eurosport.

“Not only did [Osaka] assume the title of world’s highest paid female athlete ever, knocking the robust earnings from Williams off the top spot, it was the way she did it that puts her Met Gala participation in context,” she added.

Serena Williams of the US celebrates after winning against Germany's Laura Siegemund during their women's singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Monday Serena Williams of the US celebrates after winning against Germany's Laura Siegemund during their women's singles match on day one of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Monday Photo: AFP / William WEST

The Williams-Osaka comparison has been a hot subject in the sport in recent times. But for Osaka, it is a bit too early to say that she is the player who would decisively fill the shoes of the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

“As long as Serena’s here, I think she’s the face of women’s tennis,” Osaka said after beating Williams in the Australian Open earlier this year.

In the recent Madrid Open meanwhile, Osaka was eliminated in the second round by Karolina, 4-6, 6-3, 1-6. The said loss also meant the Japanese player is still unable to win a WTA Tournament on red clay.

Despite the loss, Osaka managed to maintain a positive outlook about it and pointed out that it is at this year’s French Open where she wants to reach her peak.

“These tournaments are called warm-up tournaments and of course we all come here to win and do well at these tournaments too, but I would prefer to peak at the French [Open] as opposed to winning this tournament and then kind of going downhill,” Osaka explained.

The French Open will begin before the current month ends and will happen at the famed Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France.