A True Cham­pion

Sun.Star Davao - - BUSINESS - Mel LIBRE

Naomi Osaka is the 2018 cham­pion of the U.S. Open Ten­nis Fi­nals. The 20year old Ja­panese na­tional, de­feated her idol, Ser­ena Wil­liams. The lat­ter who has achieved 23 Grand Slam vic­to­ries is a le­gend of her own time, beat­ing such ten­nis greats like St­effi Graf, 22; Martina Navratilova, 18 and Chris Evert, 18.

Peo­ple look up to sport cham­pi­ons for their phys­i­cal stamina and tal­ent. But there are cham­pi­ons who are not wor­thy of em­u­la­tion and do not de­serve ad­mi­ra­tion for their con­duct and char­ac­ter.

Well, Ser­ena Wil­liams demon­strated bad be­hav­ior dur­ing her clash with Osaka; and not only was it shown to the whole world, it be­came more ob­vi­ous with the con­trast­ing hum­ble de­meanor of the youth­ful vic­tor.

One writer said of Wil­liams, “Her tantrum was cal­cu­lated, cyn­i­cal and selfish.”

Wil­liams com­mit­ted three vi­o­la­tions dur­ing the game: for on-court coach­ing; for smash­ing her racket in frus­tra­tion; and for ver­bal abuse to­ward chair um­pire Car­los Ramos. Her han­dlers tried hard to pin the blame on the um­pire, but the lat­ter was proven right in all counts. Wil­liams was fined $17,000.

While win­ners raise their arms, give their best smiles or ex­ude so much joy (think of Usain Bolt), Osaka was in tears. The mean au­di­ence booed her for de­feat­ing Wil­liams, and the head of the gov­ern­ing body of ten­nis was no help ei­ther, lav­ish­ing Wil­liams with praises in­stead of fo­cus­ing on Osaka.

Osaka de­scribed fas­ci­na­tion with Wil­liams in this man­ner: “When I was grow­ing up, I did a whole re­port on her in third grade. I col­ored it and ev­ery­thing. I said, ‘I want to be like her.’ [I might still have it] in a folder at home or some­thing. I’m not sure.”

On the mis­con­duct of Wil­liams, Osaka re­sponded: “It doesn’t change any­thing for me. She was re­ally nice to me, like, at the net and on the podium. I don’t re­ally see what would change.” It is like a feel-good movie script, but this was Osaka re­veal­ing her true char­ac­ter.

A gen­uine cham­pion is much about ex­cel­lence in the court as well as off-court, and Osaka em­bod­ied these char­ac­ter­is­tics. Wil­liams has been a dom­i­nant force in the women’s ten­nis for more than 20 years, and sadly, she may be leav­ing us with a rather sad con­clu­sion.

At the same time, it ush­ers a bright fu­ture for the sport with a tal­ent and char­ac­ter such as Osaka.

Hope­fully, Osaka will not be changed by ea­ger man­age­ment teams and pub­li­cists who may have their own agenda to make her more of a com­mod­ity than a per­son, which prob­a­bly pushed Wil­liams into that melt­down.

I am not a ten­nis player nor a fan of ten­nis, but with Osaka as the new poster girl of women’s ten­nis, I may be watch­ing the next tour­na­ment she will be com­pet­ing in. Osaka is the real Grand Slam.

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