Novak Djokovic explains Kobe Bryant tribute after winning US Open

Novak Djokovic paid tribute to Kobe Bryant after winning a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title at the US Open.

The Serbian defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets (6-3, 7-6, 6-3) to level Margaret Court’s 50-year record.

And immediately after the victory, Djokovic revealed a t-shirt in tribute to the legendary basketball player, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020.

“I thought about doing this t-shirt a few days ago,” Djokovic explained. “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 an injury and working my way back. He was one of the people I relied on the most.

“He would always give me any counsel, advice… In a friendly way. What happened, his passing, it hurt me deeply. I thought 24, the jersey he wore to become a Lakers legend. It could be a nice symbolic thing to do for him.

“What he’s done, not just on the basketball court, his resilience, fighting spirit, it lives on forever, I felt it today.”

Novak Djokovic celebrates while wearing a shirt with an image of Kobe Bryant

(Getty Images)

Djokovic also explained the feeling of winning his 24th grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

“I don’t know where to start, it means the world to me [to win 24 titles], I’m living my childhood dream,” Djokovic added.

“To compete at the highest level in the sport that gave me so much after so much adversity, growing up in the 90s, a couple of wars. It was very expensive, not affordable.

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“It was quite a choice, incredible resilience, belief, all these years. My wife, my kids, my team, this is your trophy as much as mine. I love you.

“To make history in this sport is remarkable. It’s special. In every meaning. It’s hard to describe. I had a childhood dream at eight to win Wimbledon and be the best player in the world.

“New goals… I never imagined I’d be here talking about 24 slams. I didn’t know it would be the reality. But I thought I had a chance over the last few years, why not grab it?”

Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, reveals a t-shirt honoring the number 24 and Kobe Bryant after defeating Daniil Medvedev


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