Osaka, who has won three Grand slams so far, is now favourite to win the Australian Open and go on to make it back to back Grand Slam titles as she overcame a nervous start to wrap up a hugely impressive 6-3 6-4 win over the 39-year-old American, her 20th win in a row.
It was another setback for Williams as she once again came up short in her 10th attempt to move level with Margaret Court’s haul of major titles.
Osaka was last defeated on February 7, 2020, and she said after the game: “I was really nervous and scared in the beginning but I eased my way into it.
“It was about having fun and it was the first day having a crowd for a while. It’s an honour to play her and I didn’t want to go out really bad so I just tried my best.
“I was a little kid watching her play so coming up against her on the court for me is a dream.”
Osaka replied saying “I was just guessing. It’s either going this way or that way” when asked how she was reading the Williams serve so well.
Watch the highlights of the match below
Going into the matchup, the numbers were in Williams’ favour as the American had won all her previous eight semi-finals at Melbourne Park.
She also had not lost to a top-three player at a Grand Slam since 2007 and had gotten revenge by beating Osaka in their last two meetings for her acrimonious defeat in the 2018 US Open final.
Perhaps Osaka put that in mind heading into the match.
She struggled with her ball toss in the direct sunlight and double-faulted on her way to dropping serve in the opening game.
Williams, on the other hand, began with an ace and a confident hold before Osaka wriggled out of another breakpoint, an ace getting her on the board.
The 23-year-old seemed to click into gear from that moment on, and as her timing returned Williams’ deserted her, the first set quickly disappearing as Osaka won five games in a row and held her nerve to serve it out at the tricky end.
Osaka took the second set in style too as Williams was left to ponder when she would finally get that record grand slam title.
In her post-match press conference, Serena Williams said: “I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone. So…” and broke into tears.
“It was a big error day for me today,” she told reporters.
Asked if it was just a bad day at the office, Williams said, “I don’t know. I’m done,” before leaving the room in tears.