Li Na said that Naomi Osaka has the ability to win more Grand Slam titles only if she possesses the desire to be a champion. (Reuters/File)
Former Chinese tennis great Li Na said that US Open Champion Naomi Osaka has the ability to win more Grand Slam titles only if she possesses the desire to be a champion. After winning the US Open title last month, Osaka had admitted that she puts too much pressure on herself to “do better.” The Japanese origin player, who got the better of Serena Williams in the finals of US Open, was left in tears after the 23-time Grand Slam winner went into a complete rage mode when chair umpire Carlos Ramos handed her a coaching violation. Osaka, who is Asia’s second Grand Slam singles champion after Li, pulled out of the Hong Kong Open due to a back injury.
Ahead of the tournament, Li spoke to AFP and said, “I believe with her abilities and strength, she can win many (Grand Slam titles) — that is if she really has the desire to be a champion.”
Speaking on Serena’s return to the tennis circuit, Li said, “Looking at the players from the sidelines, we might not really understand some of their psychological goings-on on the court. I’ve always thought she is a very strong player. There are very few players who can give birth and then immediately come back out. For me, it’s really hard to find a balance between family and the tennis court, but she very quickly got into the US Open final.”
The former French Open and Australian Open winner has often been credited for popularising the sport in Asia. However, Li believes that tennis “is still in its adolescence” in the region. “We have just passed the infancy stage, so we can still go a lot further,” she said.© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd