Tennis star Naomi Osaka has spoken about her grief follow the loss of her friend and mentor Kobe Bryant.
The new documentary, Naomi Osaka, released on Netflix this week, documents her life following her landmark US Open victory over Serena Williams in 2018.
In the film, Osaka shares a tearful selfie video recorded the day after she learned of the NBA icon’s tragic death in a helicopter accident.
"It’s so amazing how one person can, like, touch the hearts of so many people. I’ve been walking around and there’s so many people with Bryant jerseys on," Osaka says.
The two sports stars met in June 2019, and Osaka describes how inspired she was by their relationship.
"When I talked to him, I felt so similar to him. Like the way he was talking, the way he would describe how, I don’t know, he would do things to get under his opponents’ skin or whatever. I was like, ‘That’s literally what I do.’”
The footage shows Osaka’s phone screen background, which she had set as a black-and-white portrait of herself and Bryant, according to People.com.
She goes on to express her deep regret at missing the chance to ask advice one more time.
"We’re having all these talks and I’m not even doing what we’re talking about. So it’s like I’m just gonna text him again, like, ‘How do you heal with this situation?’ And then I didn’t text him that ‘cause I didn’t wanna feel like a loser, and now I’ll never have the chance to talk to him again. I don’t know, like wow," she says.
After winning her second US Open title in 2020, Osaka told reporters: "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.”