Rising Tennis Star Naomi Osaka Always Looked Up to Serena Williams. Now She’s Facing Her in the U.S. Open Final

Last year, Naomi Osaka commanded the world’s attention when she bested the U.S. Open’s defending champion Angelique Kerber in a stunning upset in the very first round. This year, the 20-year-old upstart has a shot at claiming the title herself as she challenges six-time champion Serena Williams in a historic final on Saturday.

In what Osaka termed her “dream match” against her idol, Saturday’s game pits tennis’ rising star against one of the game’s ultimate greats — if Williams wins she would tie Margaret Court for the overall record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. And while this isn’t the first time two black players have competed for the women’s singles title, it is the first time both of their last names were not Williams.

The two have competed only once before, and it’s the newcomer who holds the upper hand. As Serena herself put it, Osaka is “a really good, talented player. Very dangerous.”

Ahead of Saturday’s face off, here’s what to know about the new kid on the block.

BNP Paribas Open - Day 14
Harry How—Getty Images Naomi Osaka of Japan celebrates a match point in the WTA final over Daria Kasatkina of Russia during the BNP Paribas Open on March 18, 2018 in Indian Wells, California.

A first for Japan

For her country, Osaka has already succeeded in a major milestone: She is the first Japanese woman to reach the final of any Grand Slam. And she’s currently her country’s top-ranked player.

Yet in Japan, where racial homogeneity is prized and ethnic background comprises a big part of cultural belonging, Osaka is considered hafu or half Japanese. Born to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father, Osaka grew up in New York. She holds dual American and Japanese passports, but plays under Japan’s flag.

Some hafu, like Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto, have spoken publicly about the discrimination the term can confer. “I wonder how a hafu can represent Japan,” one Facebook user wrote of Miyamoto, according to Al Jazeera America’s translation.

For her part, Osaka has spoken repeatedly about being proud to represent Japan, as well as Haiti. But in a 2016 USA Today interview she also noted, “When I go to Japan people are confused. From my name, they don’t expect to see a black girl.”

On the court, Osaka has largely been embraced as one of her country’s rising stars. Off court, she says she’s still trying to learn the language.

“I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak,” she said.

‘Like no one ever was’

In her press conferences, which for now are English only, Osaka has earned a reputation for her youthful candor and nerdy sense of humor.

In response to a reporter asking about her ambitions, she said, “to be the very best, like no one ever was.” After an awkward pause, she clarified, “I’m sorry; that’s the Pokémon theme song. But, yeah, to be the very best, and go as far as I can go.”

At Indian Wells this year, where Osaka stunned her higher-ranked opponents and claimed victory after searing past the world’s number one Simona Halep in the semis and besting Daria Kasatkina in the finals, she proved herself no longer just the underdog. She then proceeded to give what she described as “the worst acceptance speech of all time.”

“Hello, hi, I am—okay never mind,” it began, before a litany of thank you’s petered out into giggles.
But don’t let her soft-spoken persona or goofy interviews fool you. On court, Osaka brings the heat, uncorking both ferocious power and an aggressive baseline game.
Rogers Cup Montreal - Day 2
Minas Panagiotakis—Getty Images Naomi Osaka of Japan serves during day two of the Rogers Cup at IGA Stadium on Aug. 7, 2018 in Montreal, Quebec.

W.W.S.D.

Earlier this year, Osaka reveled a four-word mantra keeps her steady through tough matches: “What would Serena do?”

Her idolization of the 23 Grand Slam-winning titan is well-known.

“She’s the main reason why I started playing tennis,” Osaka told the New York Times.

When the two played in Miami in March, six months after Serena nearly died giving birth, Osaka won. Then she Instagrammed a photo of her shaking hands with her idol, captioned only, “Omg.”

View this post on Instagram

Omg

A post shared by Naomi Osaka 大坂なおみ (@naomiosakatennis) on

After Osaka cleared the U.S. Open semis on Thursday and it became clear she was not only headed to her first Grand Slam final but was also about to face her hero once more, she was asked if she had anything to say to Serena. Her message? “I love you.”

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This is what your Twitter timeline would have looked like 10 years ago

Twitter timeline

Have you ever wondered what your Twitter timeline would have looked like a decade ago if you were following all the same people then that you are now? Wonder no more, because Twitter’s robust search engine can make this dream a reality. All you have to do is click on this link and start scrolling down your time travel timeline.

The best part of this fun Easter egg is that it doesn’t matter if you actually had a Twitter account back in 2008. As long as you have one now and are following people who were using Twitter ten years ago, then the page will populate with tweets from the most recent day it can and then move backwards chronologically as you scroll.

Continue reading…

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This is what your Twitter timeline would have looked like 10 years ago originally appeared on BGR.com on Fri, 25 May 2018 at 11:54:35 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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Our annual #Costoberfest is here! Follow along all month as we highlight cosplayers, costumers, and more.

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Rihanna Looked Like A Thick Snack At The Valerian Premiere [Photos]

Apparently, Rihanna is in that new movie Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets. But what everyone is talking about is her appearance at said film’s premiere in London.

Rih Rih arrived at the premiere at Cineworld Empire in Leicester Square looking like a thick snack in bold, red dress.

Of course, this led to the usual pregnancy rumors. Or, she could just be in love with that mega-rich Saudia Arabian business dude who was seen sliding his tongue down her throat.

Whatever the case, no fat shaming over here.

Peep Rihanna stun on the red carpet below and on the following pages.

Rihanna arrives at Valerian Premiere in Leicester Square
Featuring: Rihanna
Where: London, United Kingdom
When: 25 Jul 2017
Credit: Tony Oudot/WENN

Photo: WENN.com

The post Rihanna Looked Like A Thick Snack At The Valerian Premiere [Photos] appeared first on Hip-Hop Wired.

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This Is What 11 Golden Globe Nominees Looked Like Before They Were Famous

Ahead of Sunday night’s 74th annual Golden Globe Awards, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the night’s top nominees before they became Hollywood’s biggest stars. 

Thanks to the folks at Classmates, we’re bringing you back to the days when your favorite celebrities were just high schoolers. (Stars! They’re just like us!)

Continue scrolling to see what Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, Nick Nolte, Natalie Portman and more looked like before they were famous. 

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