NEW YORK, New York - Whether she means to or not, Naomi Osaka has regularly had some of the most entertaining press conferences over the years. The 20-year-old will play her first major final on Saturday at the US Open against her idol Serena Williams.
And with that, there is no better time than to highlight some of Osaka's funnier exchanges with the press since she burst on the scene in 2014:
"This isn't an American term, a recent American term, but I didn't want to be Meek‑Milled, like back‑to‑back losses. I don't like losing to the same person over and or again. So, yeah, sorry if anybody didn't get that joke."
- After defeating Caroline Garcia to win the WTA Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore in 2015. Osaka lost to Garcia in round-robin play but defeated her in the final.
"I'm kind of more of a Serena person. I mean, I super love Venus, too, but Serena was my No. 1. One of the things I remember with Serena playing Heather Watson here, and I was screaming at my TV, like, Come on, Serena, you can do it.
"But Venus, too, I remember like when me and my sister used to train at public courts and stuff, random people would be, like, Are you the next Venus and Serena?
"I feel like they had a great role in us growing up. I always wanted to be Serena. We [younger sisters] gotta stick together, you know (smiling)."
- On looking up to Serena and Venus Williams (2017 Wimbledon)
"It'd be super creepy. I don't know how I'd feel about playing a tournament with someone who was like 'Oh my God!'"
- On why she didn't introduce herself to Serena at 2015 Stanford.
"I wasn't really talking. I was just kind of creeping her out. I was like Oh, oh.
"But she's really nice. The void that I left because I wasn't opening my mouth, I was just like that. (Shows sealed lips.) She was like talk and I was like, Uh‑huh. Yeah, uh‑huh.
"I don't really remember what we talked about because I was really freaked out."
- On talking to Venus Williams for the first time in Singapore.
Sometimes with my tennis bag people mistake me for Serena from the back, but just now some kids thought I was Kyrgios. I’m deceased 💀😂
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) December 29, 2017
I get the Serena one because of the ponytail, but this one... im trying to blame it on Yonex bag but honestly that lowkey hurt my feelings 😩
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) December 29, 2017
"Oh, God. Well, you know, once I was practicing, right, and my whole practice -- you know, there is that commercial that says, 'If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma,' that's all I could think about for the whole practice. I was, like, why do I keep thinking this?
"Then during the breaks, all I could see was like that commercial where this woman was running in a field. I mean, it was a good practice. It's just my mind wasn't there. I think it was just muscle memory and stuff.
"That was a weird day."
- On her mind wandering during matches and practice. (2017 US Open)
"Usually in the morning I eat the same breakfast, like, every time. But then today they brought me sourdough toast instead of wheat. I freaked out a little bit, but I still ate it. And then I was thinking, if I lose this match because of the sourdough toast, I'm going to be really upset."
- On being superstitious. (2018 Indian Wells)
Q. Have you seen the movie Crazy Rich Asians yet?
NAOMI OSAKA: Describe it?
Q. It's based off a book.
NAOMI OSAKA: When did it come out?
Q. Very recently. It's an all Asian-American cast.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were saying 'crazy rotations.’
Happy on the inside 😐 on the outside https://t.co/GDw9qniDKn
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) June 18, 2018
Q. Do you ever have the opposite experience where you think we laugh at the wrong moments when you're being serious?
NAOMI OSAKA: Every day (smiling).
Sometimes I would legit say something with all my heart at somebody I'm talking to, and they would just start laughing. I'm just, like, What are you doing? I think it's because my face is, like -- I don't smile when I'm saying it. So I think they think I'm either serious all the time or I'm just joking.
"Oh, I do that on the court, though. I'm just like a really -- I don't want to say lazy, but if I don't have to show emotion, I'm just not gonna. I'm happy. Just genetically my face is like this. I'm sorry. (Laughter.)"
- On why she doesn't show much emotion on court (2015 Australian Open).
"Well, when I was playing the match, I was thinking, Okay, when I win, I'm going to throw my racquet and just be super happy. But then I was thinking I didn't want to think that while I was playing, because then, if I started losing, I would get extremely angry.
"I mean, I saw Dasha. She threw her racquet, right? Yeah. And I was going to be, like, I'm going to be that extra. Maybe I'll even cry a little bit just to soak it in. But I didn't. I was just sort of more relieved that it was over.
"And then by that -- like, the time that it took for me to realize that I won, I couldn't throw my racquet because it's been, like, a good 10 seconds. So I just went to the net, because I feel like celebrating in a crazy way is, yeah, it's a little bit disrespectful to her, I think."
- On why her celebration was muted after beating No.1 Simona Halep. (2018 Indian Wells)
@anakonjuh lol hey! Totally weird random question but, how do you have such perfect eyebrows 😂?
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) January 8, 2017
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) January 15, 2017
Q. How did the whole thing on Twitter with you and Belinda and Ana start?
NAOMI OSAKA: Which one? The eyebrows or...
Q. The eyebrows, yeah.
NAOMI OSAKA: I was just really curious, because you have seen them, right? Come on. It's like eyes and then eyebrows. Then when I talk to her, I can't stop staring at it.
And I haven't talked to her in real life a lot before that, so I just wanted, like, an icebreaker, you know.
I talked to her just now, and I think that really creeped her out, because I started talking about the eyebrows again.
But it's okay, I think.
Q. So do you guys talk a lot, like, now you feel a little freer talking to both of them in the locker room nowadays?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, but I feel like I'm very weird and they are completely normal, which is not a good sign.
Q. Why isn't that a good sign? What's wrong with being weird?
NAOMI OSAKA: Because I might creep them out. Like, I might accidentally say something. They're like, Whoa, where did that come from?
Q. You play Strycova next. She's a player with a lot of variety.
NAOMI OSAKA: I actually just, like, practiced with her yesterday. She's really nice. They call me the Shinkansen. Yeah, I mean, I hold her well because we've practiced a few times. I'm kind of looking forward to the match because I know she gives, like, 100% of her energy, and I do, too, so it will be interesting.
Q. What was that you said she called you?
NAOMI OSAKA: The Shinkansen, which is like a Japanese bullet train. I don't know why they do that.
Q. Do you know why she calls you that?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't really know. But it sounds cool, so I'll take it (smiling).
WTA Insider: Who are the women who have inspired you in your life?
Osaka: For me, my mom definitely. My sister. Serena, of course. And Beyonce. In that order. My mom because she's always been working really hard and I've always seen that and I've always wanted to do really well so she could take a break and happily that's happened now. And my sister because I definitely would not have made it here without her.
WTA Insider: So why Beyonce?
Osaka: Beyonce because Beyonce is Beyonce. The new album I really like it. I think it's really awesome. I think she's awesome. I don't know how to describe why Beyonce. I just think whenever I see her or her performances I always get really inspired and I want to put myself in a position to meet her one day.
WTA Insider: You never know. Blue Ivy might be sitting there one day watching you play and think, hey, I want to be a tennis player.
Osaka: I doubt that. I doubt that so much.
Q. Naomi, are you familiar with the work of Luna Lovegood?
Osaka: The last name sounds familiar.
Q. Harry Potter?
Osaka: Ohhhhhhh. Yeah.
Q. She's kind of quiet and independent and strong and wacky. Do you know who I'm talking about?
Osaka: In the movie she was platinum blonde, right?
Q. Right. I love her. I think she's one of the best characters of that series. Has anyone ever compared her to you before?
Osaka: No. That's the first time I've heard that. Do I do certain stuff (laughs)?
Q. No, because if you're anything like her you can be unintentionally hilarious.
Osaka: Is this because my voice goes high sometimes?
Q. It's not voice, so much as content and the things that occur to you (laughs). It's a compliment.
Osaka: Ok. Thank you (laughs).
Q. Look her up and you'll know what I'm talking about. She became one of those people who didn't think she had a lot of friends but she actually ends up being this strong female and everyone comes to understand her.
Osaka: That sounds good. I hope that can happen to me someday.
Q. Do you remember the last time you double-bageled an opponent?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah.
Q. Can you talk about it.
NAOMI OSAKA: It was you in my dreams (smiling).
Q. But do you remember actually when the last time was that you double-bageled an opponent?
NAOMI OSAKA: I think it's been a very long time. I feel like I have done it before, but maybe when I was, like, 15 or something. It's been a while.
Q. Do you remember your opponent in that match?
NAOMI OSAKA: You. Just kidding (smiling).
"She hit a second serve, right? And in my mind, right before she hits the second serve, I'm thinking, Do not hit this down the line. Don't go for it, right?
"And then there is another part of me that's, like, But if I hit this down the line, there is a 50/50 chance it will be a winner and you could win the point easy. And then when she's serving the ball, it's like ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, and I'm arguing with myself. Do it, don't do it, do it, don't do it. And then the ball comes and I hit it down the line and it goes in the net. I'm, like, Why did I do that?
"Yeah, that basically happens a lot."
- On her on-court decision-making
Played escape room with the family ❤️ pic.twitter.com/q3jc87lwWW
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) February 4, 2018
WTA Insider: Where do you feel like a result didn't come that you thought you wanted?
Osaka: Well I could have not injured my wrist and I could have done better and -- You know what? I'm just negative (laughs). Oh my god, it's like my mom 2.0.
WTA Insider: You get that from your mom?
Osaka: For sure.
WTA Insider: Your dad seems pretty chill.
Osaka: He's got that Carribean stuff going on.
WTA Insider: But mom's a tiger?
WTA Insider: Does she ever travel to watch you play?
Osaka: She's going to start. Get ready, because she's crazy (laughs). Run. If you see her? Run.
WTA Insider: Why?
Osaka: Because she's crazy. The thing is, she's Japanese, yeah? But then we moved to New York so she got this New York personality so she's loud and aggressive. And I'm just like stop. Stop doing what you're doing. No one else in our family is like this, we're all quiet and stuff, and she's like [makes roaring sound]. This is turning into an interview about my mom.
"She beat me 6-0 until I was 15, and then I don't know what happened but one day I beat her 6-2. I'm not sure if you call that a rivalry if someone beats you every day 6-0 for 15 years."
- On whether she has a rivalry with her older sister Mari, who also plays on tour.
Q. The other day Sascha said he thought you had an innocence, that quality, people could learn from that quality. Do you think you have that quality?
NAOMI OSAKA: I'm not sure (laughter). Hmm. I'm not really sure because sometimes people tell me I'm naïve. I'm not really sure if that is similar to innocence. For me innocence is, like, this little baby, right, that was just born. For me that's what innocence means.
Q. Not jaded, unspoiled, not caught up in a lot of bad stuff.
NAOMI OSAKA: How do you know I'm not caught up in bad stuff (smiling)?
Q. All the answers you gave, they were all very short. I would like to know when you are at home with your friends, you talk a lot, have a lot of smiles, fun, jokes and things like that, or you're always like that?
NAOMI OSAKA: What friends (laughter)?
Q. I saw a picture on Twitter that you had dinner with Kei and other Japanese players. Just tell me, what was that like? And do you feel now that you are friends with Kei?
NAOMI OSAKA: I want to feel like I'm friends with Kei. I'm not really sure if he thinks I'm his friend.
He's a really, really nice guy. It really surprises me how nice he is. I had dinner with Kei and Miyu Kato. And basically, it was them trying to talk to me. And I'm just giving like the one-word replies.
But, to be fair, okay, in Madrid, the dinner starts really late. And I'm an early sleeper, so I was like sleepy halfway through the dinner. And so I was like (demonstrating), and they were trying to talk.
I went with my physio, and she was like poking me. And she was like, Wake up! Kei probably has like a really weird impression of me.
Q. How did the dinner come about?
NAOMI OSAKA: Well, Kei's physio and my physio were like, We should go to dinner once. And it's probably never going to happen again. Because that was just so embarrassing.
I used to run around here when I was little 😭 pic.twitter.com/aKmxD7tAXd
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@Naomi_Osaka_) August 22, 2018
"In the mornings if I don't play my matches, I walk around and hear the lovely honking and stuff (smiling). Any afternoon that I have time off, I would go and walk around again. I just like walking in the city, I think. It's just there is a lot of energy. And then you come back to the hotel very angry because everyone just makes you very angry (smiling). I feel like it's a good exercise.
"When I go out, it feels good. Then it's just, like, you're walking and you're, like, Oh, why are these people walking so slow?"
- On what she enjoys about New York. Osaka grew up on Long Island before moving to Florida.
Q. After the match Saturday, will you have remarks prepared?
NAOMI OSAKA: What do you mean?
Q. After Indian Wells, it seemed to catch you by surprise.
NAOMI OSAKA: Oh, that terrible speech (smiling)? Yeah, I'm going to practice, I guess. Geez...
— WTA (@WTA) March 18, 2018
Q. How does it feel to be called the "coolest thing in tennis"?
NAOMI OSAKA: That's so embarrassing (smiling). I think if they wanted to title it something, they should have titled it the "most awkward person in tennis."