Naomi Osaka says her Kobe Bryant jersey gave her ‘strength’ during US Open title run

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Naomi Osaka showed a champion’s heart in coming back from a set down to win the 2020 U.S. Open women’s singles title Saturday. She displayed a certain . . . mentality.

After Osaka had celebrated her victory over Victoria Azarenka, she returned to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to take photos while holding the championship trophy. She came out wearing a Kobe Bryant No. 8 Lakers jersey.

Osaka said the jersey was a motivational tool as she grinded through two weeks of major-championship tennis under the Open’s bubble. “I truly think it gave me strength,” she wrote on Twitter. Her Twitter background image is a black-and-white photo of Bryant in his No. 24 jersey.

MORE: Osaka delivers latest social justice message with Tamir Rice mask 

A Twitter user responded with a photo of Osaka and Bryant, who watched Osaka play in last year’s U.S. Open.

Osaka was shown wearing the jersey after her semifinal victory over Jennifer Brady on Thursday.

Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash last Jan. 26 in Southern California. The group was traveling to Gianna’s AAU basketball game.

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