During a sit-down interview with ESPN on Wednesday, the four-time Grand Slam singles champion discussed her admiration for Gauff, who qualified for the semifinals of the U.S. Open earlier this week.
“I’m always really proud of everything that she does,” Osaka said. “She seems like such a good person. And just everything that she’s doing and speaking out about so many different topics — it’s something that I would love my kid to look up after her as a role model.”
She added, “I cheer for her every match that she plays.”
Osaka, a former No. 1-ranked tennis player, hasn’t competed in a tournament since September 2022. She welcomed a baby girl named Shai with her boyfriend, the rapper Cordae, in July. She has said that she plans to return to tennis to compete at the 2024 Australian Open in January.
Osaka told ESPN that she intends to take part in “way more tournaments” than she has in the past.
Gauff and Osaka have both publicly expressed their admiration for each other.
The two memorably shared a tear-jerking moment at the 2019 U.S. Open.
Osaka had embraced an emotional Gauff after defeating her in the third round of the tournament, and invited the then-15-year-old to join her in a post-match interview on the court of Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City.
Gauff reflected on the moment during a visit to the “Today” show the following month, saying she “couldn’t thank her [Osaka] enough.”
The sixth-seeded Florida native is set to play the Czech Republic’s Karolína Muchová at the U.S. Open on Thursday at 7 p.m. Eastern time.