Osaka, who grew up in New York, was up next in what was a difficult spot for a less experienced player: "I know that everyone was cheering for her and I'm sorry it had to end like this," she said. She further apologized in her news briefing for stopping Williams from getting to No. 24.
"She really wanted to have the 24th Grand Slam, right," she said. "It's on the commercials, it's everywhere."
While Williams lost her second consecutive Grand Slam final -- having been defeated by Germany's Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon when first seeking to tie Australia's Margaret Court for the all-time lead in majors -- Osaka blossomed during the fortnight.
Naomi Osaka dropped by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Wednesday, opening up about everything from her historic U.S. Open win to her celebrity crush.
The 20-year-old, who is of Haitian and Japanese descent, became the first-ever Japanese-born Grand Slam champion Saturday after defeating her idol, Serena Williams. Her victory, however, came amid a firestorm of controversy after Williams angrily confronted chair umpire Carlos Ramos and received three code violations.
By the time a tearful Osaka appeared for the trophy ceremony, the crowd loudly booed ― prompting Williams to embrace her young rival and whisper into her ear.
“She said that she was proud of me and that I should know that the crowd wasn’t booing at me,” Osaka told DeGeneres. “At the time, I did ... think that they were booing at me. I couldn’t tell what was going on, because it was just so loud in there. It was a little bit stressful.”
Speaking out in an interview on Monday morning, U.S. Open women’s singles champion Naomi Osaka said she sympathized with the audibly disappointed crowd in Queens on Saturday night after her dramatic defeat of Serena Williams.
“I felt a little bit sad because I wasn’t really sure if they were booing at me or if it wasn’t the outcome that they wanted,” Osaka, 20, told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb in her first-ever talk show appearance. “And then I also could sympathize because I’ve been a fan of Serena my whole life and I knew how badly the crowd wanted her to win.”
On Saturday, Osaka bested Williams, 36, after a match in which the umpire gave the 23-time Grand Slam champion three violations. During the tournament, Williams said to referee Brian Earley, “Because I’m a woman, you’re going to take this away from me?”
At the emotional trophy ceremony that followed, the crowd could be heard booing loudly. Osaka tilted her cap down and began to cry. Williams, standing next to her, wrapped her arm around Osaka in a comforting gesture.
“I felt really happy because I sort of felt like she knew that I was crying,” Osaka told the Today hosts. “And she was saying some things, it just made me happy overall.”
She is about to play her first Grand Slam final in a few hours. And she can't eat a bite of food. She can't even go near anything that smells like food. The mere thought of it makes her want to throw up. She woke up and found she sweat through her shirt. She spent hours pacing her hotel room and repeatedly called her sister, Mari, who tried to get her to think of the final as just another match.
"I yelled at her and said, 'What do you mean just another match? It's a Grand Slam final and it's Serena!" Naomi recalls in her unique way of remembering conversations.