With Wimbledon just weeks away, Osaka ignited a global conversation about athletes and mental health.
Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova has defeated 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia to win her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in Paris,
In a match between two first-time slam finalists, it was Krejcikova who came out on top to win 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier on Saturday.
The match ended with Pavlyuchenkova’s backhand landing long on the fourth match point for Krejcikova.
The 25-year-old emulates compatriot Hana Mandlikova who claimed the trophy in Paris in 1981.
Krejcikova paid an emotional tribute to her mentor former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna Novotna who died of cancer at the age of 49 in 2017.
“It’s hard to put into words. I cannot believe I have just won a Grand Slam,” said Krejcikova who was still outside the top 100 when the 2020 French Open, also known as Roland Garros, took place last October.
“I spent a lot of time with Jana before she died. Her last words to me were ‘enjoy tennis and try and win a Grand Slam.’
“I know she’s looking after me. All this is pretty much because she is looking after me.
“It was amazing that I got the chance to meet her. She was such an inspiration. I miss her and I hope she’s really happy.”
Krejcikova, who can also win a third Grand Slam women’s doubles title on Sunday with partner Katerina Siniakova, was presented with the trophy by Czech-born Martina Navratilova who won two French Opens as a United States citizen.
Krejcikova will rise to number 15 in the world as a result of her win on Saturday as she became the sixth successive first-time major victor in Paris.
Meanwhile, Pavlyuchenkova was playing in her first Grand Slam final at the 52nd attempt and was attempting to become the third oldest first-time winner of a major.
“I was preparing a speech for this moment ever since I was a little kid and now I am lost for words,” said the 29-year-old.
“Many thanks to my friends who came here from all over the world for one match – maybe they thought this was my one and only chance!
“Congratulations to Barbora. I don’t know how you play singles and doubles. I was dead on the last point.”
This was only the second WTA singles title for Krejcikova, but they have come in her past two tournaments.
She won the trophy on clay at Strasbourg, France, last month and is now on a 12-match winning streak.