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Naomi Osaka is the most humble Grand Slam winner

Naomi Osaka is charming, gracious and a bit shy. The 21-year-old Japanese tennis player is also a dominant presence on the court and won her second consecutive Grand Slam championship Saturday, beating Petra Kvitová, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4, in the Australian Open final.

She’s the first female player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win her first two Grand Slams consecutively, after taking down Serena Williams in the controversial U.S. Open final last year. And with the win, she’ll be the new No. 1 — the first Asian male or female player to get that high.

Even at her young age, Osaka is the most humble tennis champion. After receiving the Australian Open trophy, the first thing she gently said into the microphone was:

“Hello. Sorry, public speaking isn’t really my strong side, so I just hope I can get through this.”

Her shyness in the spotlight is stunningly juxtaposed with her power and tenacity on the court, and because of that, she’s delightfully endearing.

Turning to Kvitová on stage behind her, Osaka continued:

“Huge congrats to you, Petra. I’ve always wanted to play you, and you’ve been through so much, and honestly, I wouldn’t have wanted this to be our first match. But huge congrats to you and your team. You’re really amazing, and I’m really honored to have played you in a final of a Grand Slam.”

She thanked the fans and her own team, noting that behind every great player is a large group of people who don’t get the same glory.

“I read notes before this, but still I forgot the rest of what I am supposed to say, so just thank you, everyone,” she added.

Though noticeably skittish, Osaka looked slightly more comfortable than the last time she was in this position, standing next to her childhood idol, Serena Williams, after a controversial U.S. Open ending.

In the final in September, Williams got into an extended and heated argument with tournament officials after being handed multiple questionable penalties. She called the chair umpire a “thief” and asserted she was being treated unfairly because she’s a woman.

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The crowd was noticeably on Williams’ side, and when Osaka won, loud boos were still heard throughout Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams tried to comfort Osaka. Both players were crying — Osaka hiding behind her visor — and Williams asked the crowd to stop booing so the then-20-year-old player could have her moment after her first Grand Slam win.

Osaka later said she thought the crowd was booing her, when in fact, it was going after the umpire and tournament officials.

Throughout what was surely not how she envisioned winning her first Grand Slam, Osaka remained calm and gracious. And now that she won her second major tournament — consecutively — she got the triumphant moment she deserved, free of questionable calls and poor officiating to taint the spotlight.

She might not be comfortable public speaking, but as her career is just getting started, she’ll certainly have more Grand Slam titles and more opportunities to practice victory speeches in front massive crowds.

But it seems like she’ll never lose her charm or poise on display in these championship moments.

Naomi Osaka’s endearing shyness is a stark contrast to her power on the court.

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