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Excitement generated by the showdown between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams in the semifinals of the Australian Open could not be overstated. The 23-year-old Osaka grew up idolizing Williams, 39, who was trying to reach her ninth Australian final in a bid to win a record-tying 24th Grand Slam. And Osaka, the third seed, was looking to beat Williams a third time in four head-to-head matchups with her 11th-ranked opponent.

As showdowns go, the matchup pitted two of the most prominent female athletes on the planet against one another. And such was the tension for true tennis fans going in that even American player Sofia Kenin put her recovery from having her appendix removed on hold to take a seat.

But Osaka promptly showed why she’s the rising star in the sport today.

With her bid to make history thwarted this time around, Williams was quick to acknowledge fans ready to respect the legends she has forged on the courts Down Under:

After the match, Osaka was happy to share an amusing anecdote about what might have be part of her new prematch preparation routine:

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Naomi Osaka talks about stopping Serena’s serve and switching from Japanese food to Greek prior to her match with Serena Williams.

In the wake of Osaka’s victory, accolades poured in from other athletes, observers and tennis fans.

Osaka signed off already looking ahead to what’s next:


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