Victoria Azarenka defeated Serena Williams on Thursday night

By Lindsay Kimble
September 11, 2020 09:16 AM
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Victoria Azarenka (left) and Naomi Osaka
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images; Al Bello/Getty Images

Serena Williams' quest for her 24th Grand Slam title has come to an end.

During Thursday's 2020 women's singles U.S. Open semifinals, Naomi Osaka defeated American tennis player Jennifer Brady (7-6 (1), 3-6, 6-3) while Serena Williams fell to Victoria Azarenka at Flushing Meadows. Azarenka defeated the 23-time Grand Slam champion in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 rally.

The tennis star, 31, will now move on to play Osaka in the U.S. Open finals.

"It's obviously disappointing," Williams, 38, told reporters following the match. "At the same time, I did what I could. I feel like other times I've been close and I could have done better. I felt like I gave a lot."

The tennis champion concluded her answer by saying that she does plan to go to Paris for the French Open at the end of the month.

Osaka, 22 — who is ranked ninth in the world among women's tennis players — won the U.S. Open final in 2018, defeating Williams in a dramatic match that was marred by a verbal altercation between the 38-year-old and chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Williams was given three separate on-court violations, which she later suggested that the umpire’s actions were motivated by sexism.

Ahead of their semifinal match on Thursday, Brady, 25, reflected on Osaka's skills, telling reporters, "She's obviously a great player. Very powerful, big serve, big shots off the baseline, one-two punch," ESPN reported.

Osaka similarly called Brady a "big threat," adding to reporters of her opponent, "She has the variety I wish I had, so I'm really jealous."

In the 2020 Grand Slam tournament thus far, Osaka has made waves by wearing face masks bearing the names of victims of racial injustice to her matches.

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Thus far, Osaka has worn masks with the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, and most recently, Philando Castile, which she donned during her Thursday match.

In a post-match interview earlier in the tournament, she said wearing the masks was a way to use her platform to spread knowledge of police brutality and racism not just in the U.S., but across the world.

“I think tennis, people watch it all around the world and things that we think are common names are probably not common overseas,” Osaka said. “For me I just want people to have more knowledge. I feel like the platform that I have right now is something that I used to take for granted and I just feel like I should be using it for something.”

Osaka and Azarenka will face off in the singles final match on Saturday.