On Naomi Osaka’s recent loss in the Australian Open tennis tournament

Letter to the editor from Charles Simon-Aaron, a long-time Caribbean Camera supporter

On Naomi Osaka’s recent loss in the Australian Open tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka

Did you notice Naomi Osaka, 14th seed, age 24, recent loss to 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova, 60th seed, at Australian Open, the first Grand Slam? Because if you have not then you missed a moment in present-day global culture worthy of note.

Yep, a global culture moment.

None of the commentators and writers of the tournament noticed it.

Neither ESPN Tennis nor BBC Tennis mentioned it.

Even I watched the highlights of the match between Naomi and Amanda on You Tube and did not notice. I just said to myself when watching, “Naomi is not playing right; she is making elementary errors against a lesser player and… and that’s where I went [right index finger to the left side of my head]; my mind abandoned what was before its eyes on the court and asked a simple question, “What’s up with Naomi?”

The answer was rendered when Naomi’s after match comments were read, “I am not God! Can’t win every match”. This was followed by a picture of Naomi walking off the court hand raised in gratitude to the tournament audience. Here her face was seen and then I saw it a moment which only empathy could deliver-RELIEF!

Why RELIEF? Naomi Osaka’s next opponent was one Ashleigh Barty, the worlds’ #1 seed and Australia’s darling. An athlete an entire nation and media want to see win. Sounds familiar? Try the following:

Remember, the 2018 US Open, when a young, 20 year old, Naomi Osaka defeated her tennis hero, the one, the only, Serena Williams? Remember Serena’s [in]famous argument/contestation with the match umpire who had docked her points for allegedly receiving coaching from her coach during the match?

The entire tennis and popular culture media universe was present on September 8th, 2018, in New York City for the coronation of Serena winning her 24th Grand Slam title to equal the famous Margaret Court of Australia whose 24 Grand Slam victories was the leading number of such for women tennis players. Serena’s 23 Grand Slams was the most during her era for both men and women.

Naomi Osaka, with her inaugural Grand Slam victory at Flushing Meadows [she has since won four so far in her career], was booed and jeered by the pro-Serena audience at Flushing Meadows on the victory podium. She cried. The audience made known its distaste of her victory and, of her. Naomi, felt the rejection. Serena Williams comforted her and requested the audience accept the victory of Naomi.

In this 2022 Australian Grand Slam, there is no Serena Williams to comfort her, only an aggressive, talented, in form Ashleigh Barty with an entire nation supporting her on the march to the victory podium. A victory that has eluded Australian tennis for some time. The last time was in 1978, 44 years ago.

For many Australians that’s too long a time to wait. A Naomi Osaka winning another Grand Slam at the collective expense of another set of locals? “Nah…pass” says Naomi. “Anismova, you go ahead… One experience of stealing the joy of many? Nah…once is enough.”

Charles Simon-Aaron

Toronto, ON