Former number one Naomi Osaka confirms plan for a strong comeback in 2024

NEW YORK – Two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka returned to the US Open on Wednesday and confirmed her comeback dates back to 2024.

The 25-year-old former No. 1 player has not played since the Toray Pan Pacific Open in September 2022. She stepped away from the game in January and gave birth to her daughter Shay in July.

Osaka hopes to make her comeback early next season in Australia, and says she plans to play a more robust schedule on the Hologic WTA Tour with her return to the game.

“It’s definitely more tournaments than I used to play in,” Osaka said in an interview with ESPN. “So I think some people will be happy with that.”

“I think it’s because I realize I don’t know what the beginning of the year is going to be like for me. I don’t know what level to play and I think I have to take it easy. So at least I’m going to prepare myself for a very good end to the year.”

Osaka was at the US Soccer Association’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to participate in the US Open’s mental health forum, “Mental Health and Sport: Why It Matters”. Sitting alongside Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and USTA Chairman and NCAA Medical Director Dr. Brian Heinlein, Osaka discussed the importance of destigmatizing mental health.

“I learned a lot from speaking while I was speaking,” Osaka said. I would say my role is to raise awareness and let people know that they are not alone. Physical and mental pain is the same for me. We have doctors for physical health, but when we talk about mental health, it’s not very welcome.”

Osaka has been candid about her feelings of loneliness during her pregnancy due to not being able to travel or go about her daily routine.

“Of course I only know this world, the world of tennis,” Osaka said. “Being away from it for so long, it was new for me. The new situation and not being able to train the way I wanted to, made me feel like I was staying at home.”

Watch the full mental health forum below:

“I think I’m definitely more strategic with my time,” Osaka said when asked about how she balances her training and motherhood. “There can’t be any wasted minutes. Other than that, I’m more careful about how I present myself. Someone is watching me consciously. I learned a lot of things from my father and you will do the same.

“It sure feels weird knowing someone is counting on me. I still call my mom all the time. Knowing that this little guy is going to grow up and do the same thing is kind of weird, but I’m excited about it.”

Osaka continued to train as much as she was able to during her pregnancy. She even had hits with Andre Agassi and Stephanie Graf.

Osaka said: “I was talking to Brad Gilbert a lot and one day he told me Andre was in town, so let’s go with him and have fun.” “I got there and Steffi Graf was there too. I was really nervous, but they were really nice people.

“She’s so sweet but so stern. It would be great if she was someone’s trainer. I’d like to get some advice from her from time to time because she really knows what she’s talking about.”

“I’m in this situation right now, and I’m really grateful. I love my daughter so much, but it kind of started a fire in me.”

Naomi Osaka

After the forum, Osaka headed to Arthur Ashe Stadium to play the men’s quarter-final between Daniil Medvedev and Andrei Rublev. The four-time Grand Champion admitted that she is a little scrambling to get back into competition.

“It would be great if (my daughter) is proud of me. I also want her to be old enough to see me play on the field and say, ‘Wow, that’s my mom.'”

Osaka is not excluded from the sport as one might think. She’s been keeping her eye on action this week in New York and was wondering how Coco Gauff made it to the semifinals.

“I’m really proud of everything she does. She seems such a good person. Everything she does and speaks out about all these different topics, I would love for my child to look up to her as a role model. I support her in every game she plays.”

When asked about her choice of who will carry the trophy on Saturday, Osaka referred to her personal experience.

“These are the best players in the world and they all got here fairly,” said Osaka. “Anyone can win.

“When I played my first Grand Slam final, did I really think I was going to win? No.

“Anyone has a chance.”

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