‘I love you’, Osaka tells US Open final opponent Serena

Naomi Osaka had a straight-sets win over Madison Keys

It was nearing midnight, moments after the biggest victory of her life. But Osaka didn't crack a smile. "Even when I was a little kid, I always dreamed that I would play Serena in a final of a Grand Slam", Osaka said. "Every time I step out on this court I'm so grateful that I have an opportunity to play this sport". But right after she won this match, I was getting text messages from friends back home saying 'you're in NY and Naomi just won!' So based on that, I think people who are not always into tennis are interested in her.

"To come from that, in the hospital bed, not being able to move and walk and do anything, now only a year later, I'm not training, but I'm actually in these finals, in two in a row", said Williams, who also reached the final at Wimbledon.

Williams, playing in only her second tournament since returning from maternity leave, suffered a humiliating 6-3, 6-2 defeat.

A U.S. Open that began by celebrating a 50th anniversary could end with Serena Williams snatching a record equalling 24th Grand Slam title but it may well be remembered as Naomi Osaka's coming out party.

She said: "I shouldn't really think of her as, like, my idol". Just the fact that it's happening, I'm very happy about it. But Osaka struggled from there. Osaka then broke Keys in the next game.

"I definitely wasn't at my best", said Williams, now in her seventh tournament back.

Safe to say, those losses feel like a lifetime ago.

Just a year on from giving birth to her first child, the 36-year-old American is on the verge of one of the greatest sporting stories - and she's looking virtually unstoppable.

She made the break stand up, withstanding six break points in the next game. "She was very impressive".

"I love you, Serena", she added before adding "I love you, mom; I love everybody". It will be a really good match.

Williams and Osaka set up US Open showdown

"I'm just going to go out there and play".

She's not alone in her complimentary words.

Sevastova changes speeds and angles a lot, which helped her eliminate defending champion Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals. If not the present. Then, she served aces just like her idol would.

And she did it in just 66 minutes.

The 20-year-old was born in Osaka, Japan and moved to NY aged three before relocating to Florida. But she was getting better.

As surprising as Serena Williams' easy march to the Open final became one year after blood-clot complications following childbirth, it's a real stunner the 20-year-old Osaka is still standing.

Williams battled her way to to a first US Open title in six years and regained the world number one ranking she had last held five years earlier with a gritty victory over Jankovic.

While the big names that fill the stands - Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki - have slowly aged, the people who run and market women's tennis have patiently waited for the arrival of a fresh young face with a compelling story, big serve and punishing groundstrokes.

"There's still much more that I plan on doing", declared Williams.

"I've been working hard on my volleys", she said. So you have your answer, I think.

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