The long goodbye of Serena Williams has been bringing fellow former US Open champion Naomi Osaka to tears.
Japan’s former No. 1 who now ranks 44 after occasionally stepping away from tennis to heal emotional wounds confessed on Saturday that she is cut up by the impending retirement for Williams after the Open.
Osaka was a spectator at matches featuring the 23-time Grand Slam winner when Williams played in Toronto and Cincinnati this month.
Osaka has played a sparse schedule, losing three of the four matches she has played since Roland Garros three months ago.
“I watched her first match in Toronto before she announced it (retirement). For some reason I just started crying.
“I felt like when I played her in Australia (more than 18 months ago in the 2021 semis) people were like, ‘that’s the last time she’s going to be in Australia.’
“I was like, Dang, I really don’t want this to be true. I kind of felt like she was gearing up for her last U.S. swing. I just started crying.
“Then she announced (retirement) the day later I’m like, Oh, my God, this is what devastation must feel like.”