Naomi Osaka makes awkward name gaffe while congratulating Jennifer Brady at Australian Open

Chris Cwik
·3-min read

Naomi Osaka looked perfect during her 2021 Australian Open finals win, but she made one unforced error after the match had concluded. During her victory speech, Osaka made things awkward while trying to thank her opponent.

Osaka — who defeated Jennifer Brady in straight sets Saturday — had good intentions. Before giving credit to Brady for her play, Osaka turned to Brady and asked whether she preferred to go by Jennifer or Jenny. Brady responded by saying "Jenny." Osaka then turned back to the mic and said "Firstly, I want to congratulate Jennifer."

Some interpreted that as Osaka asserting her dominance over Brady one final time.

While anyone who grew up in the '90s can appreciate The Rock laying the smack down on an opponent, that's probably not what Osaka intended. Following the gaffe, Osaka spoke glowingly about Brady and her team.

"We played in the semis of the U.S. Open a couple months ago and I told everyone that would listen that you're going to be a problem, and I was right. For me, it's really hard to play you. And to see your growth over the past few months is really cool to see. I know that you're probably working very hard, so I want to congratulate your team over there as well. I know, for me, my team is like my family, so I'm sure you guys have a lot of really cool adventures together, so congratulations to you guys as well."

It's more likely Osaka didn't hear Brady's answer, or nervously misspoke in the heat of the moment.

Update: Osaka addresses moment on Twitter

Which is exactly what happened, she clarified in a tweet the following day with three different types of distressed emojis. 

"Omg no," she wrote. "I promise you my mind thought I called her Jenny in that moment and I was so confused why the crowd was laughing. I'm so sorry." 

Naomi Osaka perfect in Grand Slam finals

With her win, Osaka remained perfect in Grand Slam finals. Osaka has come out victorious all four times she's reached the finals at a Grand Slam event. Osaka came into the 2021 Australian Open as the No. 3 ranked women's singles player in the world. She'll look to reclaim that No. 1 spot following her victory.

For Brady, the finals appearance is further confirmation she's stepped up her game. Brady had a strong 2020, which saw her defeat a number of top players in big moments. While Brady lost to Osaka at the 2020 US Open, it was a hard-fought match, and one that earned Osaka's respect.

Because of that, it's tough to imagine Osaka intentionally misnamed Brady. There's clearly admiration between the two competitors.

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