Naomi Osaka added a third Grand Slam to the trophy case this weekend with a comeback victory over Victoria Azarenka in the championship of the US Open.
Afterward, the 22-year-old took to Instagram to share the honor with the late Kobe Bryant.
Osaka credits Kobe Bryant for strength
The photo is of Osaka holding up the trophy while wearing a black No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers jersey in an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
She captioned it: “I wore this jersey every day after my matches. I truly think it gave me strength.” It’s signed “Always” with yellow and purple heart emojis.
Osaka dropped the first set 1-6 on Saturday, but bounced back and won the next two sets by 6-3 scores. It was her second US Open title.
She wore the jersey to her post-match press conference and spoke about the five-time NBA champion’s belief in her.
"I just want to be the type of person that he thought I was going to be. He thought I was going to be great, so hopefully, I will be great in the future."@naomiosaka on Kobe Bryant's belief in her 💜💛 pic.twitter.com/g0T9DwY9Ve— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 13, 2020
Osaka uses US Open platform to highlight police brutality
Osaka used her platform to highlight victims of police brutality by wearing their names on her face mask ahead of matches. She had seven — one for each round of the tournament — and used every one by making it to the final.
She wore a mask with Tamir Rice’s name on Saturday.
Naomi Osaka brought seven face masks to the US Open.— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) September 12, 2020
Each mask highlights a different Black victim of racial injustice and police brutality.
- Breonna Taylor
- Elijah McClain
- Ahmaud Arbery
- Trayvon Martin
- George Floyd
- Philando Castile
Today: Tamir Rice
Osaka was asked by ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi after the win what message she wanted to send with the masks and she answered with her own question.
“Well, what was the message that you got? That’s more the question,” Osaka said. “I feel like the point is to make people start talking.”
The parents of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery thanked her in a video shown after Osaka reached the semifinals last week.
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