Naomi Osaka is a ‘complete player’ and can lead the woman’s game in the next few years says Grand Slam champion, Justine Henin.
Henin, who won seven Grand Slam titles and was twice finalist at Wimbledon, believes that the women’s game has lacked stability over the last two years but sees Osaka as the player who has the charisma, vision and all round ability to lead the sport.
Osaka has won both the Australian Open and US Open twice now, and recently picked up the Laureus Award for Sportswoman of the Year for her success on court and her activism off court too.
After winning her first Grand Slam in 2018, Osaka became world number one and has since admitted that being in the top spot added pressure to her game, however Henin believes she is now ready for that role.
“I’m really much more positive than I was two years ago because that I feel that we have some stability in women’s tennis and I think with Osaka we have someone who can really lead the women’s game in the next few years,” said Henin, who was speaking to Sky Sports.
“When she won her first US Open and Australian Open everything seemed new for her and she took a while to assume her status because when she became number one it was really tough for her. She was really shy and it was complicated.”
Although Osaka has been slow to make an impact on the clay surface, Henin believes her overall game is improving all the time as well as her ability to cope under pressure.
“As a player I thought she was impressive already but she has improved physically, she’s moving really, really fast and she’s much better on the court now. The speed and velocity of the forehand is quite amazing. She can do a bit of everything.
“She has great vision and she has improved mentally. At the Australian Open she saved two match points against Garbine Muguruza.
“Her serve reminds me a bit of Serena Williams who sometimes wasn’t playing so well but times when she had to play well she was doing it.
“Naomi is charismatic and a complete player. She plays fast, she’s consistent, and she has physically improved a lot, so I’m very impressed by the level of the game she can reach.”
Osaka will play Roland Garros which starts May 30, and she will be hoping to improve on her previous record having never got past the third round in previous tries.
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