Naomi Osaka Celebrates 'Kobe Year' with Throwback Photo on 24th Birthday: 'Feeling Very Thankful'

The tennis champion shared a message of gratitude, along with a throwback photo of herself as a baby, as she turned 24 on Saturday

Japan's Naomi Osaka hits a return to Canada's Leylah Fernandez during their 2021 US Open Tennis tournament women's singles third round match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, on September 3, 2021.
Photo: Ed JONES/AFP via Getty

Happy birthday, Naomi Osaka!

The tennis superstar shared a sweet throwback photo of herself as a baby on Saturday to celebrate her 24th birthday. In the picture, young Naomi sports a pink outfit and an adorable pair of Nikes as she looks at the camera.

"24, Kobe year," Osaka began the post, referring to late Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant.

"I just wanna say I'm so extremely grateful, thank you everyone for all the birthday wishes ❤️," she continued. "When I was younger it was just my sister and parents who wished me happy birthday, now a few years later to have people all over the world doing the same… Surreal emotions. Feeling very thankful, honored and blessed 🥺❤️."

Osaka's Grammy-nominated rapper boyfriend Cordae, whom she began dating in 2019, also shared a sweet birthday tribute to his girlfriend on Instagram. "Happy birthday to a real Goat! love ya ❤️ ❤️ @naomiosaka," he wrote.

Naomi Osaka and YBN Cordae attend a basketball game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Washington Wizards at Staples Center on December 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Allen Berezovsky/Getty

The four-time Grand Slam singles champion has much to celebrate this year. In September, she launched her new brand KINLÒ, which is designed with people of color's needs in mind. It's a "project that I've been working on with my team for the past year," Osaka explained on her Instagram Story at the time.

"As a POC I started learning about skin cancer rates affecting people like me wondered why there wasn't a great product that feels good and protects our skin," she wrote. "So I founded @kinloskin which is a functional skin care line for people with melanated skin."

"Tennis can be challenging at times but it has given me this platform which I am so grateful for and allows me to help others in ways I wouldn't have imagined otherwise," added the athlete. "Hope you like it!"

Of the brand — which pays homage to Osaka's bicultural heritage as both Kin and Lo mean "gold" in Japanese Haitian Creole respectively — the tennis star shared: "Bringing KINLÒ to life was a personal and professional goal of mine. I am thrilled that my first entrepreneurial endeavor will be something meaningful to my community, and I couldn't be more thankful for my team at A-Frame and GoDaddy. "

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Similar to her Instagram post, Osaka expressed in a press release that she was moved to create the line after feeling as though "Black, Brown, and other melanated skin toned communities are often an after-thought in the discussion and research surrounding sun care, including being excluded from clinical studies on skin cancer."

"Additionally, there is a lack of sun protection products being made with melanated skin in mind. These points have all led me to create KINLÒ, a mission-first brand," Osaka added.

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