When Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka take the court in Queens today for the U.S. Open Finals, it will be a history making match no matter the outcome.
On one side will be the GOAT, Serena Williams. She returns to another finals match after giving birth to her daughter. Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., a year ago. Since that time, Williams has suffered from “postpartum emotions“, set back, discriminatory drug tests and a loss in the Wimbledon Finals two months ago. But Serena continues to take it all in stride, not letting obstacles deter her from her adding to her amazing career.
Serena currently sits on 23 Grand Slam victories, one shy of tying the record of 24, held by Margaret Court. This is her second consecutive Finals appearance, one which could give her another place in the record books.
On the other side sits Naomi Osaka who, at 20, defeated Madison Keys in straight sets on Thursday. Osaka, who is of Japanese and Haitian descent, is the first Japanese woman to reach the final of a Grand Slam event. She was just a baby when Serena won her first Grand Slam in 1999 at the US Open, and now she gets to face off against an opponent who helped paved the path for, and inspired players like, Osaka.
20-year-old Naomi Osaka is the youngest US Open women’s finalist since 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki in 2009. She will face Serena Williams, who made her first Grand Slam appearance when Osaka was 3 months old.
This Finals match will be watched closely and intensely as there is so much history involved. 19 years ago, Williams won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 18 when she defeated Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-6. Not only was this her first Grand Slam win, but it also made her the first African American woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era.
Last year Sloane Stephens faced off against Madison Keys in the US Open final, beating her 6-3, 6-0. This was the first All American, and All African American, Finals since 2002, when Serena defeated sister Venus 6-4, 6-3, reversing the outcome of their matchup in the finals in 2001.
So at the end of today’s championship, history will be made regardless of the outcome. Serena could finally have her Grand Slam record tying win, Osaka could have her first Grand Slam title and first Grand Slam title won by a Japanese player. The winner will collect a $3.8 million check, which is a $100,000 increase from last year, making it the largest payout in tennis history. The runner-up receives $1.85 million. And it’s the second year in a row that Black Girl Magic has taken over the US Open Finals.
Lots of history to be made, and all of us will be honored to have watched it unfold today in Queens.