Osaka beats Williams to reach Australian Open final

Once again, Serena Williams came within reach of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, playing well enough to get to the closing days of a major tournament.
And once again, Williams couldn't quite get it done - beaten 6-3, 6-4 by Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals on Thursday.
As Williams walked off the court, the 39-year-old American paused and put her hand on her chest as thousands of spectators rose to applaud.
Was this, Williams was asked at a news conference, her way of saying goodbye?
"If I ever say farewell," she replied with a smile, "I wouldn't tell anyone."
When the next question returned the conversation to the subject of Williams' many mistakes - twice as many unforced errors, 24, as winners, 12 - she shook her head, teared up, said, "I'm done," and abruptly ended the session with reporters.
Osaka, who also beat Williams in the chaotic 2018 U.S. Open final, reached her fourth major title match and stretched her winning streak to 20 matches by claiming the last eight points.
"I don't know if there's any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play," Osaka, 23, said about Williams, "and just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream."
The No. 3-seeded Osaka's Grand Slam collection also includes last year's U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open and she is, without a doubt, the most dangerous hard-court player in the women's game at the moment.
That used to be Williams, of course. But she was off-target too much in this contest, finishing with twice as many unforced errors, 24, as winners, 12.
After collecting her professional era-record 23rd major singles trophy at the Melbourne Park in 2017 while pregnant, Williams has not been able to pull even with Margaret Court's mark of 24 for the most Grand Slam titles in history.
Since returning to the tour in 2018 after having her daughter, Williams has reached four major finals and lost them all. She's also now lost in the semifinals twice in that span.
On Saturday, at 7:30 p.m., Osaka will meet a first-time Grand Slam finalist for the championship. No. 22 Jennifer Brady of the United States was scheduled to face No. 25 Karolina Muchova in Thursday's second semifinal.
Osaka beats Williams to reach Australian Open final
Spectators watch the women's semifinal match between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams on Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne on Thursday. Photo: AP/Andy Brownbill
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