Sydney Low/CSM/Shutterstock Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka's impressive performance at the 2021 Australian Open this past weekend put a smile on at least one fan's face — and now the tennis star is sending some love back.
The 23-year-old athlete, who won her fourth Grand Slam at the Australian Open last Saturday, shared a photo on Twitter Monday that captured the ball girl with a big smile on her face while watching Osaka from behind at Rod Laver Arena.
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The ball girl, dressed in green and a blue hat, was kneeling down in the photo while looking up at the Japanese tennis champion, who had both of her hands and racket in the air in celebration at the women's singles final.
"Was looking at pics from AO and I just noticed the ball girl in this. hi," Osaka captioned her post, adding several emojis.
Osaka, ranked third in the world, defeated No. 22 seed Jennifer Brady in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, in the women's final. She last won the Australian Open in 2019, while Brady had never previously been in a Grand Slam final.
"She's such an inspiration to us all," Brady said about Osaka after the match. "What she's doing for the game is amazing, getting the sport out there. I hope young girls at home are watching and are inspired by what she's doing."
Osaka celebrated her victory on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup alongside the caption, "Absolute madness. number 4 #ausopen."
To secure her place in the final, Osaka had to beat tennis icon Serena Williams, taking her down in two sets. After her victory, Osaka reflected to reporters on playing one of her favorite athletes.
"I was a little kid watching her play, and just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream," she said last week.
On the men's side, Novak Djokovic won the singles final. He defeated Russia's Daniil Medvedev to earn his ninth Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam title.