Naomi Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, recently opened up about her struggle with "long bouts of depression" since winning her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in 2018.
While celebrating her 22nd birthday, Osaka questioned her life's direction, and her mother reassured her that her achievements were more than acceptable. In the autumn of 2022, Osaka, contemplating her tennis career, discovered she was pregnant.
Her daughter, Shai, was born in July, and Osaka shared how motherhood has brought completeness to her life.
Osaka faced challenges during her pregnancy, dealing with morning sickness and post-natal depression. Despite her history of depression, the onset caught her off guard. With the support of her mother and team, Osaka navigated through the challenging times.
Belgian coach Wim Fissette emphasized the importance of giving her time off when needed and praised Osaka's improved communication about her feelings. Becoming a mother during a tennis career is becoming more common on the WTA Tour, with players like Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova making comebacks after maternity leave.
Osaka returned to professional tennis after a 15-month absence and reflected on the dramatic changes she experienced. She acknowledged the physical training, logistical support, and careful planning required as a new mother and urged others not to compare themselves to her situation.
Florian Zitzelsberger, Osaka's strength and conditioning coach, emphasized the unique challenges and strengths of post-pregnancy physical recovery.
Despite not watching the 2023 Australian Open and French Open, Osaka expressed her ambition to return to the top and create a better version of herself as an athlete. She aims to compete more strongly on clay and grass and desires to cherish every tournament while traveling the world with her daughter.