Serena Williams was deeply hurt by her loss to Naomi Osaka at the 2018 U.S. Open. That match ended in controversy, as Williams was docked a point and a game for arguing with a ref.
Following that loss, Williams struggled to move on. The 37-year-old Williams told Bazaar, she focused on the loss, running through what happened and whether it should have been different. Eventually, she realized the only way she could move forward was to apologize to Osaka for overshadowing Osaka’s moment.
Serena’s letter to Osaka read:
“Hey, Naomi! It’s Serena Williams. As I said on the court,I am so proud of you and I am truly sorry. I thought I was doing the right thing in sticking up for myself. But I had no idea the media would pit us against each other. I would love the chance to live that moment over again. I am, was, and will always be happy for you and supportive of you. I would never, ever want the light to shine away from another female, specifically another black female athlete. I can’t wait for your future, and believe me I will always be watching as a big fan! I wish you only success today and in the future. Once again, I am so proud of you. All my love and your fan, Serena.”
Osaka responded to that note, telling Williams “people can misunderstand anger for strength,” and encouraged Williams to “continue trailblazing.”
Even after that, Williams waited a long time before she picked up a racket again. She found inspiration in her daughter, and decided to keep fighting, both on and off the court.
On the court, Williams put that on display Tuesday at Wimbledon. Williams defeated Alison Riske, moving on to the semifinals at the event. Williams is seeking her eighth women’s singles title at the event.