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Naomi Osaka announces her return to professional tennis in 2024



Former world number one Naomi Osaka intends to return to professional tennis in 2024, the 25-year-old said in an interview with ESPN on Wednesday.

The four-time Major champion – who welcomed a baby girl in July with her boyfriend, rapper Cordae – said she plans to play a busy schedule next year.

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

“I think it’s because I realized that I don’t know how the start of the year is going to be for me. I don’t know the level of play and I think I have to take it slowly. So at the very least, I’m going to set myself up for a really good end to the year,” Osaka said.

Osaka, who hasn’t played since the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2022, previously said she plans to return to tennis in 2024 for the Australian Open, a tournament she won two times. occasions.

Osaka was asked if her break from tennis was making her miss it, to which she replied “definitely”.

“I’ve watched games and I’m like, ‘I wish I had played too,'” Osaka said. “But I am in this position now and I am very grateful. I really love my daughter, but I think it really ignited a fire in me.

Osaka has taken some time off from competitive tennis and has made several high-profile revelations about her mental health issues following an incident in 2021 in which she was visibly stressed and emotional while she was addressing the media at a mandatory press conference at Roland Garros.

She then retired from Roland-Garros that year and revealed that she had “suffered long periods of depression” since winning her first major championship in 2018.

Osaka was present on Wednesday at the US Open in New York. She also participated in a mental health forum the same day at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, alongside US Olympic swimming legend Michael Phelps, US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, and Dr. Brian Hainline, President of US Tennis. Association Board of Directors and NCAA Chief Medical Officer.

Osaka said she learned a lot from speaking about her mental health experiences and becoming an advocate for mental health awareness.

“I feel like someone who is learning all the time. Obviously, I learned a lot from that speech as I spoke,” Osaka said. “I would say my role is just to educate people and let them know they’re not alone.

“For me, physical pain and mental pain are kind of the same thing. We have doctors for physical health, but when we talk about mental health, it’s not as well received, so just educate people about it.

She was also asked about her earlier comments that she felt “lonely” during her pregnancy.

“I definitely only know this world, the world of tennis,” Osaka said. “Being away from that for a long time was new to me. I think it was just the new situation and not being able to train the way I wanted, I felt like I would stay at home. … It felt like a lot of restrictions.