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Naomi Osaka expresses gratitude for having had Kobe Bryant as a mentor, credits Serena Williams for "building champions"

Naomi Osaka opened up about the biggest influences on her life.
Naomi Osaka opened up about the biggest influences on her life.
Rohit R
ANALYST

In a recent appearance on the television show 'The Shop: Uninterrupted', Naomi Osaka talked about how two of the most decorated athletes in sports history have played a huge part in shaping her life and career. Kobe Bryant and Serena Williams are amongst the greatest athletes of all time, and Osaka is one of the countless people inspired by them.

The Japanese star first shared how much of an impact Bryant had on her when she was a newcomer in the world of professional tennis. Osaka claimed she wants to carry the basketball legend's legacy forward by helping the younger generation in a similar manner.

"I was really lucky to have like Kobe as my mentor," Osaka said. "And I really love like everything that he passed down to me. So I always feel like if there was a younger player that ever needed any advice from me I'd love to give it."
Naomi Osaka wants to carry forward Kobe Bryant's legacy.
Naomi Osaka wants to carry forward Kobe Bryant's legacy.

Naomi Osaka also stated that more than for her tennis, she wants to be remembered for who she was as a person and how she was able to help others.

"If I, you know, were to retire from tennis, I would want people to remember me with how I acted towards people and, like, how I interacted," Osaka said.

Naomi Osaka says Serena Williams' legacy goes beyond tennis

Serena Williams has been a role model to many - including Naomi Osaka - ever since she first started playing.
Serena Williams has been a role model to many - including Naomi Osaka - ever since she first started playing.

Many believe that Serena Williams is one of the most influential figures not only in tennis, but across all sports. Naomi Osaka echoed that sentiment, asserting that the American's legacy extends beyond her professional achievements.

According to the Japanese, Williams has inspired countless others with the way she has broken barriers throughout her career. Osaka credited the 40-year-old for inspiring her to start playing tennis, and claimed she wants to be a similar role model for future generations.

"Like for example Serena. Her legacy is more than her being Serena," Osaka said. "Like, I started playing because of her. I'm sure there's so many other girls that started playing because of her, so she literally built champions. And I think passing it down is like how the newer generations gets inspired."
“She literally built champions”
@serenawilliams was her inspiration, so now it’s @NaomiOsaka’s turn to inspire the next tennis great 🎾 🏆#TheShop is back tonight at 9 PM on @HBOMax. https://t.co/VsV6CxZtgl

Both Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams are currently away from the court, the former due to mental exhaustion and the latter due to injury. But Osaka revealed on the show that her hiatus from tennis, which began with her third-round exit at this year's US Open, might end soon as she is feeling a desire to compete again.

Edited by Musab Abid
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