Naomi Osaka cements her status as leader on and off the court with 2020 US Open run, by D’Arcy Maine, September 13, 2020

Naomi Osaka laid down in the middle of the court with her hands folded and stared at the sky. She had just won the US Open title — her second in three years and third overall major championship — against Victoria Azarenka. The smile had now faded from her face, and she was ready to fully take in the moment.

“I was thinking about all the times I’ve watched the great players sort of collapse onto the ground and look up into the sky,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see what they saw.”

There were few people in the stands of Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to watch the scene unfold or to shower her in applause after restrictions were put in place in New York due to coronavirus pandemic. It didn’t much matter. Millions around the world witnessed what she did. And when she finally stood up, she solidified her status as the sport’s new leader on and off the court.

“I think I just got through it because during quarantine I wanted to set myself up to possibly win this tournament,” she said. “I felt like I just worked so hard, I wanted to give myself an opportunity.”

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