Osaka and sports’ young guns
Naomi Osaka’s triumph after a gripping match with her idol Serena Williams in the women’s final of the US Tennis Open over the weekend drove home the point that youngsters are taking the sports world by storm.
After athletes no older than 18 claimed gold medals by showing up veteran Olympians and world champions at the Asian Games last month, the 20-year-old Osaka proved even more that young guns can take over the reins.
Despite a series of unfortunate events that marred one of the finest matches ever played by someone in her position, Osaka claimed the trophy and the $3.8-million prize with a 6-2, 6-4 mastery of Williams for the first Grand Slam crown of her career.
Naomi, who has Japanese and Haitian lineage, was a picture of calm and composure amid Serena’s outburst against the umpire.
Osaka’s conquest of Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slams, hit close to home.
Only recently, the Philippine Olympic chief said “grassroots development and talent identification have to be ramped up” since… “fresh young faces with boundless energy, fierce determination and gung-ho spirit are coming to the fore” and have to be discovered.
Osaka’s exploit also stokes the interest in individual, not team, Olympic sports disciplines where Filipino athletes can excel on the world stage even without the benefit of tree-top reaches and Goliath or amazon-like heft.
Tennis has a glorious past in the Philippines where Dwight Filley Davis, in whose honor the Davis Cup, the World Cup of the game was named for, served as the governor general under the administration of US President Herbert Hoover.
Unfortunately, the sport’s local governing had been racked by past strife and needs to shape up to able to produce world-class players.
Osaka continues to reap the rewards of her new stature as a superstar. She is reportedly set to sign a huge deal with Adidas.
According to a report by the Times of London, her new pact with the athletic shoes and apparel maker could dwarf her earnings from tennis.
Osaka, who has a current “six figure” salary with Adidas that will expire in December, will reportedly get $8.5 million a year from the new deal and would be the biggest one the company has agreed to with a female athlete.
The Times said “with the new endorsement deal, Osaka could become the second highest-paid woman, above fellow tennis player Caroline Wozniacki but one rung below Williams.”
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