- Naomi Osaka has expressed uncertainty about her competitive readiness ahead of the 2024 season
- She has over 15 months off the court
- Osaka harbours a hint of apprehension regarding the rigours of tournament play
Naomi Osaka has expressed uncertainty about her competitive readiness at the start of the 2024 WTA Tour.
However, she has the potential to draw inspiration from the remarkable achievements of fellow mothers on the WTA Tour.
Following a prolonged absence of over 15 months, Osaka will make her much-anticipated return to the WTA Tour at the Brisbane International, armed with a wildcard.
Osaka, a two-time semi-finalist at the tournament, seeks to add to her Australian success, having previously secured Grand Slam titles in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021.
Naomi Osaka 2024 Season
Despite extensive training for her comeback, Osaka harbours a hint of apprehension regarding the rigours of tournament play and its accompanying demands.
She says that although she is not sure of her form yet, she is optimistic that she will have a good season.
“It’s definitely way more tournaments than I used to play. So I think some people will be happy with that. I realized that I don’t know how the beginning of the year is going to go for me. I don’t know the level of player, and I think I have to ease into it. At the very least, I will set myself up for a very good end of the year,” she said recently ahead of her return.
Naomi Osaka Motherhood Journey
She delivered in July and she is enjoying her new motherhood journey with her fiancée rapper Cordae. Since losing in the first round of the US Open in 2022, Osaka hasn’t participated in any professional matches.
Being out of action feels strange to her, especially missing the 2023 Australian Open. She implies that it was the hardest hit she took because it was the first time in her tennis career that she missed the tournament.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting phase that she is learning from and she is entertaining the possibility of playing tennis in her late 30s like Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams.
One thing is for sure: her time off tennis has increased her love for the racket and she is now ready to play for as long as she can because tennis is a huge part of her life.
She says her plan to play more tournaments starting in 2024 is good news to her fans. The rationale behind this decision is to ensure that she regains her form after over a year off the court.
Since Osaka is aware that it takes multiple matches to get comfortable, participating in more competitions allows her to start over and develop her portfolio.
Is Naomi Osaka Retiring?
In March, she denied retirement claims after learning about her experience becoming a mother. The Japanese tennis star, who is 25 years old, claimed that her career is far from over.
She is still working hard to promote mental well-being, particularly for tennis players and other athletes, even though her comeback is soon.
She has previously accused social media users and the media of being insensitive to tennis players, which has caused her and many other tennis players to experience mental health issues.
Osaka disclosed her mental health issues in public in 2021 and then took an unexpected trip to Greece. She claimed to be battling depression.
Former WTA Tour professional Martina Navratilova’s doubles partner, Pam Shriver, believes that the recent successes of mothers on the WTA Tour will serve as a beacon of inspiration for Osaka.
Shriver is confident that the trailblazing achievements of players like Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Tatjana Maria, and Elina Svitolina will have a significant impact on Osaka’s approach to her comeback.
She acknowledges the complexities surrounding Osaka’s extended absence from the game. It goes beyond her pregnancy to a self-imposed break for mental and physical well-being.
Shriver remains optimistic about Osaka’s potential to shine Down Under in January. She believes that Osaka’s experience as a mother, coupled with the inspiration from her fellow mothers on the tour, could fuel her resurgence in the upcoming season.