WTA stars from around the world are paying tribute to Kobe Bryant following the basketball legend's tragic passing in California on Sunday.
Our deepest sympathies to the family, loved ones and friends of @kobebryant and his daughter Gianna, as well as the entire @Lakers organization and fan base. Kobe was an incredible person whose support and appreciation for women’s sports and athletes will be missed.— WTA (@WTA) January 27, 2020
The 41-year-old basketball great, who played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was among those killed early on Sunday morning in Calabasas, Calif. in a helicopter accident.
Media reports indicated that Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, a promising basketball talent in her own right and known as Gigi, also passed away in the crash.
A transcendent figure even outside of basketball, members of the tennis family took to social media to express their shock and share their condolences.
Kobe and Gigi💔 This is incredibly difficult to process. I will never forget your generosity, and the time you set aside in some of my most difficult moments. I am forever grateful. My heart is with you and your beautiful family. pic.twitter.com/rnGI8o1p5L— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) January 26, 2020
RIP Kobe Bryant and all those who lost their lives today 💔— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) January 27, 2020
Your loss puts everything in perspective.
Thank you for inspiring so many of us to follow our dreams
This is such a tragedy. So devastating. This can’t be real life... RIP 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/fLYbAbXUYg— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) January 26, 2020
Life can be so cruel. Tough to take in this terrible tragedy.— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) January 26, 2020
RIP Kobe. Sending my sincere condolences to the Bryant family 💔
Tragic. I’m totally speechless. https://t.co/6W2rLUJirs— Sabine Lisicki (@sabinelisicki) January 26, 2020
One of the greatest sportsmen of our lifetime. RIP 💔 pic.twitter.com/29R7IjexUj— Karolina Pliskova (@KaPliskova) January 26, 2020
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of @kobebryant, as well as to the entire Lakers family. This is a horrible tragedy. Kobe was one of the best to ever play the game of basketball. May he Rest In Peace.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) January 26, 2020
I truly can’t believe this. My heart is so heavy. Rest In Peace Kobe. What an unimaginable loss. All of my prayers to your loved ones. ♥️🙏🏾😭— Sloane Stephens (@SloaneStephens) January 26, 2020
❤️ 🙏🏼 Kobe Bryant 🙏🏼 ❤️— Carla Suárez Navarro (@CarlaSuarezNava) January 26, 2020
I feel sick. One of my favorite athletes of all time. True warrior mamba will live on forever RIP— Jessie Pegula (@JLPegula) January 26, 2020
This doesn’t feel real 😢 massively heartbreaking news. https://t.co/2EytaAb2cM— Laura Robson (@laurarobson5) January 26, 2020
This one is just so hard to wrap your head around. So damn sad. Just feels wrong. https://t.co/HoQm6e7UxO— Nicole Gibbs (@Gibbsyyyy) January 26, 2020
Praying for the Bryant family 💔— Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) January 26, 2020
I truly can’t believe this... A hero to so many, including me. Kobe was the ultimate image of discipline, work ethic and greatness 😭🐐 pic.twitter.com/cgK4oG2XEk— Vicky Duval (@vicky_duval95) January 26, 2020
I’m heartbroken to hear this. Celebrating his successful career with @KingJames #recordbreaking night it’s hard to swallow #RIP #Kobe My heart goes out to his family and friends🙏🏽 https://t.co/7oW3KRhC1T— Katrina Adams 🦋 (@katadams68) January 26, 2020
In the years since his retirement from basketball, Bryant had not been a stranger to the tennis community.
He was a fixture at last summer's US Open, where he and Naomi Osaka teamed up to promote Bryant's young adult fantasy novel, "Legacy and the Queen."
Created by Bryant's production company, Granity Studios, and authored by Annie Matthew, the novel centers around the titular character, Legacy, a young girl living in the fictional kingdom of Nova, who has to use her tennis talents to save her orphanage.
About the book, Osaka said: "I love Legacy's drive, her passion and her fierce mentality. I would hope to say that we're similar in that sense."
In the tennis-themed fantasy novel #LegacyAndTheQueen, twelve-year-old Legacy trains consistently in order to have a chance against her opponents. Whether you call it motivation, determination, or commitment, she's the first on the court and the last one off! @Naomi_Osaka_ pic.twitter.com/YIBktIMMDX— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) August 18, 2019
In addition, he took in plenty of exciting matches in New York, including the emotional scenes seen around the world between Osaka and 15-year-old Coco Gauff inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Osaka also posted an emotional tribute on social media in the form of a letter to her 'big bro' Kobe Bryant. She wrote:
"Thank you for being you. Thank you for inspiring people everywhere, you have no idea how many hearts you've touched. Thank you for being so humble and not acting as big as you are. Thank you for caring and checking up on me after my hard losses. Thank you for randomly texting me, 'You ok?' cause you know how ****ed up my head is sometimes. Thank you for teaching me so much in the short time I've been lucky enough to know you. Thank you for existing, you will forever be my big bro/mentor/inspiration. Love you."