After dedicating the entirety of 2023 to pregnancy and the joys of motherhood, Japanese tennis sensation Naomi Osaka is poised for a triumphant return to the tennis arena. Having battled well-documented mental health struggles that momentarily cast doubt on her future in the sport, Osaka is now ready to grace the main stage once again.
Expressing gratitude to her supporters, Osaka, in a heartfelt message, acknowledged their patience and allowed for her personal growth, setting the stage for what she calls the "second chapter" of her tennis journey.
A year ago, on the brink of the Australian Open, Osaka joyfully revealed she would miss the Grand Slam for a joyous reason – the impending arrival of her first child. In July, she welcomed a baby girl named Shai with her boyfriend, rapper Corday. Now, as she prepares to make her comeback at the Brisbane tournament, 2024 promises to be the year of Osaka's glorious return to tennis, marked by renewed health and vigor at the age of 26.
The past year served as a positive sabbatical for Osaka, allowing her to focus on family while reigniting her passion for tennis. Prior challenges, particularly at Roland Garros in 2021, where media scrutiny, mental health issues, and on-court struggles took a toll, are now behind her.
The pressure of expectations, especially after winning four Grand Slams, representing Japan at the Olympics, and dealing with mental health challenges, led to a break from the sport. However, her journey through pregnancy, as revealed in a candid interview, brought its own set of challenges, ultimately transforming her outlook on life and bolstering her confidence.
As Osaka looks ahead to 2024, she aims to close two significant chapters in her career. A return to Melbourne for the Australian Open seeks to demonstrate that she has conquered the demons that arose after her 2021 victory. Additionally, with aspirations to compete in the Olympics on the clay in Paris, Osaka anticipates playing without the burdens that weighed her down in previous tournaments. Commentators note that her resurgence has shifted pressure onto her competitors, as Osaka's confidence and motivation make her a formidable opponent that none would want to face on the court.