Novak Djokovic paid tribute to Kobe Bryant© AFP
The undisputed No.1 in in the world of men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic, added another Grand Slam title to his name, defeating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev to win the US Open 2023 title. After what was his 24th Grand Slam win, Djokovic paid a brilliant tribute to late basketball star Kobe Bryant, wearing a “Mamba Forever” shirt during the trophy presentation. Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 to clinch his fourth US Open crown and gain revenge for his loss to the Russian two years ago which shattered his dreams of a calendar Grand Slam.
Afterwards, Djokovic revealed a t-shirt with an image of him alongside Bryant — the ferociously competitive basketball great whose nickname was “Mamba”. On the back was 24, the number worn by the Los Angeles Lakers icon during his NBA career.
Novak hits 24 and pays tribute to the late Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/rDXVUvYe1Z
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2023
Djokovic said Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash three years ago, had helped him through some of the most challenging times of his career — notably a career-threatening elbow injury in 2017.
“I thought about doing this t-shirt a few days ago,” said Djokovic.
“I didn’t share it with anybody. Kobe was a close friend of mine, we chatted a lot, about the winner’s mentality.
“When I was struggling with injury and trying to work my way back to the top he was one of the people I relied on the most he was always there for support in the most friendly way.
“His passing hurt me deeply and 24 is the jersey he wore at Lakers so I thought it would be nice to acknowledge him.”
With AFP inputs
Topics mentioned in this article