Tokyo: Naomi Osaka has put her US Open tears down to shredded nerves and her natural awkwardness, rather than the tantrum thrown by Serena Williams that overshadowed a historic Japanese win.
The 20-year-old melted hearts when she burst into sobs as boos rang out following her emphatic 6-2, 6-4 thrashing of Williams in a controversial New York final a little over a week ago.
But Osaka has refused to blame her childhood idol, who called chair umpire Carlos Ramos a “thief” in an astonishing rant triggered by a code violation for coaching that culminated in a docked game.
“I feel like there was just a lot of emotions,” Osaka said in Tokyo on Monday.
“I couldn’t really pinpoint it at the time, I just felt very overwhelmed.”
The row that erupted between Williams and Ramos polarised opinion and sparked a debate about sexism in tennis after the American fumed that the umpire would not have treated a male player in the same fashion.
Osaka has stayed above the fray since becoming Japan’s first Grand Slam singles champion but her tears at the trophy presentation provoked an outpouring of sympathy.
“I’m grateful that people care or sympathise but I don’t really think there was anything to be sad about,” said Osaka, who has risen from 19th to seventh in the new world rankings.
“I don’t feel like I would’ve liked to savour the moment more — I think I do things my own way and everyone is different in their own way so I don’t really have any regrets.”