Serena Williams inspired by Tiger Woods during her return to the top

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I was ready. But somehow maybe I started playing a little bit worse and worse. "You think, okay, she's going to let up eventually, but she didn't, so all credit to her". It will be a really good match.

"I can understand way more Japanese than I can speak", Osaka told reporters at USA Today.

"Well, it was good that I played her because I kind of know how she plays now", said six-time U.S. Open champion Williams, who will be bidding to join Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters as the only mothers to have won Grand Slam titles in the professional era. "She was trying to deal with that". I always thought if I were to win a Grand Slam, the first one I'd want to win is the US Open, because I have grown up here and then my grandparents can come and watch.

"I got a little emotional out there because a year ago I was literally fighting for my life in the hospital". Williams was still returning to form after giving birth to her daughter last September.

"What were you saying to yourself at the end there", she was asked during the on-court interview after the win.

"I shouldn't think of her as my idol, just as an opponent", said Osaka. Apologies if this is a very dated reference, but the cadence and rhythm of Osaka's voice makes her sound like Alyson Hannigan's character Michelle in the American Pie films. She came out somewhat flat against both Pliskova (in the quarters) and on Thursday night against Sevastova; if she does that against Osaka, she could find herself down a double break. Osaka is a future Grand Slam champion. "I just feel like there's a lot of growth to still go in my game".

After a par-70 effort in Friday's second round of the PGA BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club near Philadelphia, Woods returned the favor to Williams, who would match Australia's Margaret Court as the all-time leader in Grand Slam singles crowns with a victory Saturday. That's how long it took her to drop the opening two games.

"Of course, I feel like since the circumstances were so different, I'll be able to see, like, how she changed and stuff". But Serena has won her other four matches facing a first-time finalist - defeating Garbine Muguruza, Lucie Safarova, Aga Radwanska and Vera Zvonareva. Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova on Thursday to advance, while Osaka beat Madison Keys to move on. Osaka's serve will bail her out of any trouble and the pressure to perform will get to Serena again, just like it did in 2015 when she lost a lay-up match in the semifinals that ended her hopes at the calendar Slam. Leading up to the match, Sevastova's versatile game had been compared to Karolina Pliskova's and Roberta Vinci's - the players who had beaten Williams in her two most recent trips to the semifinals in NY. Add that to her usual powerful baseline game and always superb serve, which reached 120 miles per hour (194 kph), and this really was no contest at all.

Naomi Osaka rose to worldwide prominence previous year after defeating U.S. Open defending champion Angelique Kerber in the very first round through a stellar upset. Osaka has played the best tennis of her career over the past two weeks - dropping just one set en route to the final.