Naomi Osaka continues to solidify herself as tennis' greatest rising star.
In a straight-set 6-3, 6-4 victory, the 23-year-old superstar claimed an Australian Open semifinal victory over Serena Williams on Wednesday night. Winning aside, she said it was "a dream" just to be on the same court as her childhood idol.
After the match, Osaka honored another one of her idols. As a known lover of all things Kobe Bryant, the two-time US Open champion showed up to the post-match press conference rocking a purple and gold Lakers jacket.
After claiming a US Open victory in 2018 and an Australian Open win in 2019, Osaka found herself in a major slump -- notching multiple early tournament exits. Like countless other young stars in their sport, she decided to reach out to Kobe for advice. In an interview with Vogue, tennis' brightest star highlighted the impact the Lakers legend had on her career.
"He taught me that even though it's tough in the moment, if you keep going, you'll get the result," Osaka said. "Or you might not get the result but you'll get an opportunity to get the result."
When Kobe tragically passed away in January 2020, Osaka was one of the many athletes devastated by his loss. After every match in her 2020 US Open run, the Beverly Hills native donned a No. 8 "Black Mamba" jersey, saying it "gave her strength."
Looking for her fourth Grand Slam title, Osaka will face No. 22 Jennifer Brady in the Australian Open final on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. local time (3:30 a.m. E.T.).