World number three Naomi Osaka has spoken about how playing against Serena Williams is a childhood dream come true after reaching the Australian Open final.
Osaka stormed into her second final at Melbourne Park with an emphatic 6-3 6-4 win over the 23-time Grand Slam champion on Rod Laver Arena.
The Japanese star will face another American, Jennifer Brady, in the final as she bids to win her second Australian Open title - having won it in 2019 - and her fourth Grand Slam.
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For Serena, her wait for her 24th Grand Slam to tie Australian Margaret Court's record goes on, and she later left her press conference in tears saying: "I'm done".
But despite it being such a heartbreaking defeat for Serena, Osaka found kind words to pay tribute to the American after their semi-final battle.
"It's just always an honour to play her and I just didn't want to go out really dud. I just wanted to try my best," Osaka said in her on-court interview.
I was a little kid watching her play and just to be on the court playing against her is a dream.
"You're competitive, you are playing against another competitor, that itself is the funnest part because tennis is a game."
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On court, Williams was given a standing ovation as she departed the scene. She put her hand on her heart, smiled and waved to the returning fans on Rod Laver Arena.
When asked if that was intended to be a final farewell to Melbourne Park, where she holds a record seven titles in the Open era, the 39-year-old was not ready to say.
I don't know, if I ever say farewell I wouldn't tell anyone.
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