“It Feels Surreal”: Naomi Osaka Reacts to Birthday Wishes and Dedicates 24th Year to Kobe Bryant

Published 10/16/2021, 1:34 PM EDT
Naomi Osaka and Kobe Bryant as Osaka holds Kobe’s book, ‘Legacy and The Queen.’


Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka is celebrating her 24th birthday today. Osaka has had a difficult year but took to Twitter to acknowledge how grateful she is for her fans. The four-time Grand Slam winner shared an adorable picture of herself as a child. 

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Osaka mentioned NBA legend Kobe Bryant in her post as it’s her 24th birthday and Kobe sported the number 24 on his jersey. He was a huge source of inspiration for Naomi and she has never shied away from revealing her fondness for Kobe. Unfortunately, Kobe passed away in 2020 after a helicopter crash and since then, August 24 is remembered as ‘Kobe day’. He sported the numbers 8 and 24 during his career.  

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The 24-year-old posted the picture with a message that stated, “24, Kobe year. Thank you for all the birthday wishes. When I was younger it was just my sister and parents who wished me a happy birthday, now a few years later to have people all over the world doing the same…It feels surreal. I’m so extremely thankful, honored, and blessed.”

Naomi Osaka doesn’t take the support she receives for granted 

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Osaka also took notice of the fact when she did not have any fame, she would receive wishes only from her family. However, now that she is a superstar, she is overwhelmed by the wishes on her various social media accounts from fans from all over the world. 

The 2021 Australian Open champion felt honored and blessed with the appreciation she receives. Coming to tennis, Naomi was last seen during the US Open last month. She lost in the initial rounds and was unable to defend her title.

Aug 30, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan serves against Marie Bouzkova of Czech Republic in the first round on day one of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

After the US Open, she decided to take an ‘indefinite break’ for tennis and hasn’t yet returned to the court. Hopefully, she’ll make an appearance soon which her fans are eagerly awaiting.  

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Rohan Kollare

1363 articles

Rohan Kollare is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Rohan has studied Sports Management and has a trophy cabinet adorned with accolades won in district and state-level tennis competitions. He has previously worked in Content Operations for Disney’s Hotstar for over a year, covering Tennis and Formula One.

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