Osaka’s reaction to viral Aus Open photo
Five days after securing her fourth grand slam singles title, Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka has taken time to reflect on a successful Australian Open campaign.
The 23-year-old defeated America's Jennifer Brady at Rod Laver Arena on Saturday evening to claim her second Australian Open title and get her 2021 season off to a flyer.
But looking back on images from the grand slam tournament, Osaka noticed a ball girl in the background of a snap taken during the final in Melbourne Park.
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Australian teenager Marle van der Merwe was beaming with delight as Osaka celebrated her victory, and the world No. 2 couldn't resist sharing the image to her socials.
"Was looking at pics from AO and I just noticed the ball girl in this … hi," Osaka posted to Twitter with a love heart and waving emoji.
The moment was captured by Australian photographer Quinn Rooney from Getty Images.
Osaka's post quickly acquired more than 39,000 likes and 2500 retweets.
ABC journalist Lisa Miller tweeted: "Wherever this ball girl is right now in Melbourne I'm hoping someone is excitedly showing her this tweet."
Marle was shocked when she spotted the tweet during her school lunch break on Thursday, telling The Herald Sun: "It was very special - no player ever does that.
"I was with my friends at lunch and saw the link. Mum just sent me the link to the Twitter post she made and I clicked on it and was pretty shocked."
The 16-year-old got an opportunity to pose alongside her sporting hero soon after the match, spotted kneeling next to Osaka in these images.
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Osaka was all class on the court during her straight sets demolition job on Saturday night and remained a class act off it.
After saying during the post-match presentation how lucky players are even to be competing during a global pandemic, Osaka made sure her fans knew how much she appreciates them.
The 23-year-old did the usual signing spree as spectators hung over the wall to get clothes, merchandise and tennis balls autographed.
"That's great. Naomi's out there signing every autograph," WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen tweeted. "Ran back out after walking into the tunnel."
Sports reporter Sam Landsberger tweeted: "Before leaving Rod Laver Arena Naomi Osaka goes right, left, up the tunnel, and then doubles back to sign 36 autographs in total.
"Tennis balls, programs, tickets, hats, paper fans … nobody missed out. She even posed for photos and threw balls back to fans. Class."
- with James Matthey
Originally published as Osaka's reaction to viral Aus Open photo