Osaka, playing in her first Grand Slam final, faced her idol and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in front of a cheerful American crowd. 2018 was the Japanese player's birth year as the next superstar of women's tennis.
As it proved throughout the season with a long list of scintillating wins over seasoned campaigners like Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, and Simona Halep, it was only a matter of when and not if Osaka would arrive on the scene as a main-event player.
In Indian Wells that year, she gave tennis fans a glimpse of her potential when she won a maiden WTA title by dropping just one set during the week. The full circle moment happened later that season during the US summer when she won her first Grand Slam.
Osaka outclassed Serena Williams in the US Open championship match 6-2, 6-4, but the final will fondly be remembered for some of the contentious moments that happened during the match rather than the final outcome.
Williams, a decorated champion in New York and many parts of the world, was entangled in an argument with the chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who gave her three separate code violations, which resulted in an automatic game penalty.
Ramos opined that Williams received coaching instructions from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, and issued her a warning despite repeated disputes by the legendary American. Her second code violation occurred after breaking her racket into the ground, where she was docked a point.
And the final nail in the coffin was sealed when Williams branded the Portuguese umpire a "thief" for "stealing" a point from her. Serena burst into tears, and despite her plea for a supervisor to be called into play, the match eventually slipped from her grasp.
In Osaka's new book, which is authored by American journalist Ben Rothenberg, we learn, according to Tennis.com, that Williams was unimpressed and uninterested in the runner-up trophy and allegedly dumped it into the trash can.
"Once she was behind closed doors, Serena made her feelings about the relic of her loss clear, dumping the platter into a trash can."
And despite the efforts of an attendant to try and retrieve it and hand it back to Williams, the American furiously declined, saying, "I. Don’t. Play. For. Second. Place."