BRISBANE (AFP) - Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka has revealed her excitement at meeting her idol Beyonce, saying the American singer "smelled expensive" and gave her a morale-boosting pep talk at a low point last year.
The two-time Grand Slam champion, who will be defending her Australian Open title this month, bumped into Beyonce and her husband Jay-Z while still "depressed" after losing in the fourth round at the US Open.
"I met Beyonce and Jay-Z during the off-season. She just smelled expensive and beautiful and she was soft and she hugged me," Osaka told the WTA website. "I was like, this is what heaven is."
The meeting came in the aftermath of Osaka's defeat at Flushing Meadow by Belinda Bencic, which ended her first Grand Slam title defence.
"She was talking to me and she said she was proud of me. I thought, wow, that actually was a really important moment," said the 22-year-old, who stunned Serena Williams in the 2018 US Open final.
"I felt really depressed after I lost my match, but I'm thinking about the impact that tennis players - I don't think we know, I don't think we're aware of all the good that we can do.
"That was kind of an eye-opening thing. Even though it was one of my worst points, to lose - I wanted to be a defending champion and I lost early - there's still something really good that came out of that.
"There are some things that I have to remember are out of my control, especially past events. So I just have to put myself in a position to not regret anything."
Osaka hired a new coach in the off-season, Wim Fissette, having split with Jermaine Jenkins following the US Open, and said she was raring to go after her 2019 season was abruptly cut short by injury at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.
She is set to play her first match of the year at the Brisbane International against Maria Sakkari on Tuesday (Jan 7).
"I just feel like for me having positive energy and having a clean mental slate is really important, so that's what I did this entire off-season," she said.
"I mean, I trained, but I wasn't super pressed on anything. That's just something I had to learn throughout the entire year.
"I feel like 2019 had so many trials and errors and all in all, it felt like a very long year, but now that I'm here it feels very compact. It's learning about myself more."