Following an extraordinary match, the 18-times Grand Slam champion lauded "superstar" Osaka and her incredible rise to the top of her game.
MELBOURNE-With a resilience forged in the strife-torn US Open final, Naomi Osaka clinched her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open on Saturday, but this time there was no drama that could sour her triumph.
With her second career Grand Slam title, in a row, the 21-year-old is the the first world No. 1 to be ranked outside of the Top 50 in the rankings just a year prior.
However, as Naomi Osaka now sits in a position of total prominence as the new world No 1 after adding the Australian Open to the US Open she won last September, she must wonder how much more onerous and traumatic finals can get.
As Osaka talks about playing tennis, it seems she experiences something similar, except instead of "just sing, stupid", it's "just play, stupid". She tugged at her pink visor's brim.
There were no apologies as she received the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup and collected her prize cheque. "I know some people train to be really good at it". Last year, at the same tournament, Osaka was No. 72 in the world.
Others simply paid to tribute to two inspirational players who had provided a fitting denouement to the women's singles in Melbourne.
In securing victory in Melbourne after her stunning win over Serena Williams in the US Open previous year, Osaka also clinched the world number-one spot, the first Asian to do so. "Not really great ones", the 28-year-old Kvitova said.
'But I'm aware of all the work that I put in.
"I didn't know if I was going to hold the racquet again". I mean, in my opinion, it didn't feel fast. "It felt kind of long".
When Osaka won the US Open, some cynics hemmed and sceptics hawed. She is a full-fledged, boldface, one-name star, even if she is reluctant to acknowledge and embrace her new, selfie-filled reality. "No. I just hope I can get through this", Osaka said. I think about this on the court, too.
While her indifference is endearing, in reality, it happened months ago.
Osaka, 21, has a Haitian father and Japanese mother and has lived in the USA - whereabouts, she will not say - most of her life, but identifies as Japanese.
Well, after winning the #usopen2018 Naomi Osaka became a star. Would anyone break through, win multiple Slams and step into the role of The Woman to Beat?
Of all Osaka's numbers on this night, one was pre-eminent. I know all the sacrifices that every player does to stay at this level.
Saturday's women's final had it all.
Her doctor didn't tell her at the time of concerns about the scarring on her surgically repaired left hand that could hinder her return to top-level tennis.
"Hello!" she said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. "I had the match points on her serve", she said.
Japan's Naomi Osaka poses with her trophy at the Australian Open in Melbourne Park, Melbourne January 26, 2019.
After a whirlwind 12 months, Osaka said she was both surprised and unsurprised at herself.
"This is insane. I can not believe I just played the final of a grand slam again", she said.