By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) Four-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce would be vouching for Japan’s Naomi Osaka to win the coveted gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games slated to be held later in the year.
Osaka, currently ranked 10 in WTA Rankings, made it to the limelight after she defeated US legend Serena Williams to win the US Open title in 2018. In 2019, she went on to win the Australian Open after beating Petra Kvitova.
In an exclusive conversation with IANS, Pierce said it would be a “nice story” if Osaka goes on to win the top honours in the Olympic Games, that too in her home country.
“It (Olympics) will be a very open tournament when it comes to women’s tennis. It’s impossible to say exactly who is going to win as there are too many good players at the moment right now. You need to watch out for the Japanese players as they would be very motivated playing in their own country.
“Osaka, for sure, would be one of the contenders for that coveted gold. How often do you get an opportunity to compete at the Olympics, that too in your own country? Sometimes, it never happens. So, it would be nice to see her win gold in her own country as it would be a nice story,” she added.
The 45-year-old also expressed her opinion as to why Serena hasn’t been able to win the record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. The 38-year-old last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017. Currently, Margaret Court holds the record for most number of Grand Slam wins.
“It’s amazing how she (Serena) has come back after having a baby and juggling with life. I am really impressed by her. But you have to see that she is also a human being, there’s stress, there are emotions that she has to deal with and she wants it (24th Grand Slam title) so bad,” Pierce said.
“I think when she gets into the final, she puts a lot of pressure on herself and because of that stress she doesn’t win the final match. But having said that, you also have to acknowledge that she has faced some great opponents in the finals who have given her tough fight,” she added.
Pierce, who won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi in 2005, will be in the national capital to inspire the Indian boys and girls who will be competing in the Roland Garros junior wild card event next week.
(Aakash Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])