NAOMI OSAKA believes time contemplating her future during the coronavirus pandemic and a desire to make Kobe Bryant proud motivated her to regain the women’s singles title at the US Open.
The 22-year-old from Japan (pictured) was outplayed by Victoria Azarenka in the first set of Saturday’s final but recovered brilliantly to triumph 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 in New York.
The trophy adds to her 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open titles but her support of Black Lives Matter during the tournament will also be remembered.
Osaka walked onto court wearing a face mask bearing the name of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy killed by a policeman while playing with a toy gun in 2014. ‘The quarantine gave me a chance to think a lot about things, what I want to accomplish, what I want people to remember me by,’ she said. ‘I came [here] with that mindset. I think it helped me out.’
NBA icon Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January and Osaka added: ‘There are certain things I do that I hope can make him proud. He thought I was going to be great, so hopefully I will be great in the future.’
Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem were due to contest the men’s final late last night.