NBA legend Kobe Bryant and former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick were on hand to watch the defending champion.
Osaka put on a show for her “famous friends,” defeating Magda Linette in straight sets 6-2, 6-4.
Many know that Bryant is someone Osaka looks up to and gleans advice from on how to manage all that comes with being a peak athlete. Bryant is one of the few people on earth who can understand and relate.
Both Bryant and Kap were very into the match, reacting to every point, missed shot, and movement. It was almost as if they were playing.
Following the match, Osaka spoke about Kobe and Kap, saying:
“I don't know. It's just funny to me. You know, like, last year compared to this year there is no way, like, Kobe would sit in my box [smiling]. Yeah, Kaepernick, too. It's just crazy who you run into in life. For me, it wasn't pressure. It was just like I really didn't want them to sit in the sun too long, honestly. That was the thing that was on my mind. I was, like, I don't really want to play a third set...I mean, I know Kobe. This is actually the first time I have ever met Colin, and it wasn't even through me. So, yeah, I mean, everybody knows Kobe gives me real-life advice. He's someone I look up to as an athlete and also as a person. I'm really grateful that I even have the opportunity to, like, talk to him and stuff.”
Bryant, Kaepernick and Osaka also happen to be Nike athletes, and no doubt the “Swoosh” will find a way to capitalize on the opportunity over the course of this U.S. Open.
The U.S. Open has a long history of attracting other star athletes and celebrities to watch the best tennis players in the world. Bryant stuck around to catch some more of the action on Thursday and shared his thoughts via Twitter.