Naomi Osaka wears Kobe Bryant jersey after US Open title: 'It gave me strength'

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Naomi Osaka said the Kobe Bryant jersey she wore after matches gave her strength. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka said the Kobe Bryant jersey she wore after matches gave her strength. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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.

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.

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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