Naomi Osaka Pays Tribute to Kobe Bryant After Serena Williams Defeat at Australian Open

The tennis star called on Kobe for extra strength in her semi-finals match against Williams.

Naomi Osaka is leaning on one of the greats for strength.

During a press conference held after her Australian Open semifinals victory over Serena Williams, Osaka wore a vintage Los Angeles Lakers sweater, as a nod to her former mentor and NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last January.

According to ESPN, the 23-year-old tennis star credited the Lakers sweater for "extra strength" in her defeat against Williams.

"For today, I felt like I needed some extra strength," she said of wearing the sweater. "That's kind of why I'm wearing this."

This isn't the first time Osaka's donned Bryant memorabilia while competing in a tournament.

Osaka regularly wore Bryant's jerseys during the U.S. Open last year, including a limited edition "Black Mamba" one after defeating Victoria Azarenka to win the women's singles final.

"I wore this jersey every day after my matches. I truly think it gave me strength. Always 💛💜" the tennis player wrote alongside the photo.

Bryant would no doubt be proud of the tennis phenom, whom he once played tennis with.

The clip showed Osaka and Bryant volleying back and forth for a bit, before the video ends with Bryant hitting a ball into the net.

"He wasn’t THAT bad at tennis :speak_no_evil::weary::purple_heart::yellow_heart: haha love you bro," Osaka joked.

The young star's major win ended the tournament for Williams and may even mean the end of tennis for one of the sport's greatest stars.

Before exiting the court, Williams addressed the crowd, holding her hand up and putting her hand on her heart in gratitude. As it always goes in sports, people immediately began analyzing whether that was the 39-year-old's way of saying a permanent goodbye to the fans in Melbourne.

When asked what her gesture to the crowd meant, Williams said, "I don't know, the Aussie crowd was so amazing, it was nice to see."

While many athletes make major announcements ahead of retirement, this tennis legend says when she says farewell she will keep that information private.

Regarding her future and whether a goodbye is around the corner, she said, "I don't know, if I ever say farewell I wouldn't tell anyone so."

As questions continued to come in, Williams was appearing to get emotional and eventually stated she had to be done fielding questions, explaining, "I don't know ... I'm done," as her voice began to shake more.

Osaka's win will advance her to the women's singles final, which she will play Saturday at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.




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