Serena Williams is confident a shoulder injury will not affect her Australian Open chances, while title favourite Naomi Osaka feels she is in a ‘really good place’ ahead of the first Grand Slam of the season.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion withdrew citing the shoulder issue after reaching the semi-finals of the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up event on Friday.
Williams said: “I feel pretty good. I’ve gotten a lot of treatment already on my shoulder. But I’m super confident it’s going to be great. I’m feeling very confident, I think is a better word, and getting ready for hopefully the next two weeks.”
Top players do not normally play tournaments the week before a Grand Slam and Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Stan Wawrinka all joined Williams in withdrawing from warm-up events.
There was not too much alarm over Williams’ decision, therefore, although she insisted the timing was not the most important factor.
The 39-year-old said: “I didn’t really think about that so much. I was just thinking about more or less how I was feeling. I think at my age, my career, I really just try to go on how I’m feeling physically and not put myself in a bad position in general for my health.”
The first pic The most recent pic pic.twitter.com/3jYv9yxxju
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) January 29, 2021
Osaka: Mori’s remarks ‘ignorant’
Three-time Grand Slam winner Osaka also said that sexist comments by the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee were “ignorant” but refrained from calling on Yoshiro Mori to resign.
The 83-year-old Mori, a former Japanese Prime Minister, said this week that women talked for too long in meetings.
He later retracted and apologised for the comments he had made in a meeting with the Japan Olympic Committee but refused calls to resign.
The 23-year-old Osaka, who was born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother and raised in the US, is planning on representing Japan at this summer’s Games.
The comments set off a storm on social media at home and abroad, with a petition calling for action against Mori gathering tens of thousands of signatures on Friday, a day after its launch by Japanese activists.
“I did look at the comments. I didn’t think they were good,” Osaka said.
“I think if you’re in a position like that, you really should think before you say anything. I don’t know in what situation he said those things, but I think it’s really uninformed and a bit ignorant.”
“I think someone that makes comments like that, they need to have more knowledge on the thing that they’re talking about.
“I’m not sure if it’s a situation where someone should demand that he resigns or if it’s just something that people need to make him understand that what he said wasn’t right.”