Naomi Osaka says her memory of the U.S. Open 'is a little bit bittersweet'

Naomi Osaka is happy she won her first ever Grand Slam at the 2018 U.S. Open, but the memory itself is a little more complicated. (Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka is happy she won her first ever Grand Slam at the 2018 U.S. Open, but the memory itself is a little more complicated. (Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka’s U.S. Open win was unlike any other. She won her very first Grand Slam title in straight sets, beating her idol Serena Williams, but Williams’ confrontation with the umpire is what took center stage. Boos rained down as Osaka and Williams were awarded their prizes, and even though the jeers weren’t targeted at Osaka, it wasn’t the moment she’d spent years envisioning.

Osaka is currently in Beijing playing in the China Open, and now that she has a little distance from the U.S. Open, Osaka opened up about the experience to Courtney Nguyen of the Women’s Tennis Association. And despite her win, Osaka still has mixed feelings.

“The memory of the US Open is a little bit bittersweet. Like right after, the day after, I really didn’t want to think about it because it wasn’t necessarily the happiest memory for me. I don’t know. I just sort of wanted to move on at that point.”

And she’s still not ready to share all of her feelings.

“I have so much tea right now, but I’m not going to spill it,” Osaka said with a laugh.

“There’s a lot of stuff I want to say about how I felt and whatever. But for me, I don’t know, I don’t know.”

It’s hard to blame her for keeping her cards close to the vest. After the final, all anyone wanted to talk about was Williams’ confrontation with the umpire, the resulting penalties, and the boo-filled awards ceremony. While Osaka was asked how she felt about her first Grand Slam, she was also asked how she felt about the Williams’ ordeal. Osaka told Nguyen that the whole experience could have been overwhelming if she hadn’t been able to keep busy. The Pan Pacific Open started a week after the U.S. Open, so she was able to throw herself into a new competition and take her mind off of what happened.

Despite her recent success — she made it to the final of the Pan Pacific Open, but lost to Karolina Plíšková — Osaka is still sorting through all those U.S. Open final feelings.

“I mean, of course I’m happy that I won a Grand Slam. I don’t think there’s anything that can take away from that. But I don’t know.

“I feel like not that when I look back on it that it’s a bad memory, but I feel like it was so strange, I just didn’t want to think about it. I wanted to just push it to the side. Then I played Tokyo. For me, Tokyo was a way to take my mind off of it. I think that’s why I did well.

“I’m still trying to take my mind off of it a little bit. I guess hopefully I can do well here, too.”

Osaka has plenty of time to figure out how she really feels about her first Grand Slam win. And since reporters are going to ask her about it all the time for the rest of her career (and probably longer), she’ll have ample opportunities to share those feelings with the world. But for now, Osaka is focused on the China Open. And with Serena’s last minute withdrawal, there’s no chance of a U.S. Open rematch.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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