Tennis: Naomi Osaka remembers Kobe after US Open triumph


Posted at Sep 13 2020 03:06 PM

Japan's Naomi Osaka paid tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant after her triumph at the US Open, wherein she defeated Victoria Azarenka in the final to secure a third Grand Slam title.

Osaka, 22, came back from a set down to claim a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Afterward, she posted a photo of herself on Twitter wearing Bryant's No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

"I wore this jersey every day after my matches. I truly think it gave me strength," said Osaka.

Osaka had previously been shown on video wearing the Bryant jersey while watching the semi-final between Azarenka and Serena Williams two days ago.

This is not the first time that Osaka has been inspired by Bryant, who died in January after a helicopter crash in California, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.

It was previously reported that when Osaka told Bryant that she "wanted to be just like him," the five-time NBA champion responded: "No, be better."


When Bryant died, Osaka posted a letter on her social media, calling him her "big bro."

"Thank you for inspiring people everywhere, you have no idea how many hearts you've touched. Thank you for being so humble and not acting as big as you are," she wrote.


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"Thank you for caring and checking up on me after my hard losses. Thank you for randomly texting me, 'You ok?'… Thank you for teaching me so much in the short time I've been lucky enough to have known you," she said.

"Thank you for existing. You will forever be my big bro/mentor/inspiration."

Osaka adds the 2020 US Open title to her triumphs at the 2018 US Open and the 2019 Australian Open.

The player also used her platform to bring awareness to racial injustice, wearing different masks bearing the names of victims of police brutality to her matches. Ahead of the final, she wore a match bearing the name of Tamir Rice, who was killed by a white police officer in Cleveland in 2014.

Osaka previously wore masks bearing the names of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd and Philando Castile.