Naomi Osaka clinched her second U.S. Open title win Saturday in New York.
The 22-year-old tennis champion beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in a third set in the women’s singles final.
Azarenka won the first set, but Osaka pulled ahead in the second and third.
“I wasn’t really thinking about winning. I was just thinking about competing,” Osaka said. “Somehow, I ended up with the trophy.”
After her win, Osaka collapsed on the court and stared up at the sky.
“I was thinking about all the times I’ve watched the great players sort of collapse onto the ground and look up into the sky,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to see what they saw.”
In a post-match conference, Osaka wore a No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers jersey as a nod to her mentor, Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in January.
“I wore this jersey every day after my matches. I truly think it gave me strength,” she captioned a photo on Instagram.
Throughout the tournament, Osaka was photographed wearing masks with the names of Black Americans who have been killed in acts of police brutality and gun violence: Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Philando Castile.
In July, she wrote an op-ed for “Esquire” about her experiences as a biracial individual and race relations in the U.S. and Japan.
“The point is to make people start talking," she told reporters Saturday.
The Grand Slam winner became the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles title in the 2018 U.S. Open when she was named the champion in a controversial final against Serena Williams.
“We made the decision that Naomi would represent Japan at an early age,” Tamaki Osaka told the Wall Street Journal a year ago. “She was born in Osaka and was brought up in a household of Japanese and Haitian culture. Quite simply, Naomi and her sister Mari have always felt Japanese, so that was our only rationale. It was never a financially motivated decision nor were we ever swayed either way by any national federation.”
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