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Naomi Osaka finally sheds light on tennis return amid pregnancy

Naomi Osaka is eager to return to competition after giving birth as she provided an update on her eventual comeback. The former world No 1 is currently sidelined while expecting her first child and explained that she was using this period as a “break”.

Osaka has not competed since September, ending her 2022 season early and pulling out of the Australian Open at the start of the year. Days after her withdrawal, the four-time Major champion announced that she was expecting her first child with boyfriend Cordae but wanted to be back at the tournament in 2024.

And the 25-year-old has provided an update on her hopes of a comeback, telling WBS in Japan that she had her eye on winning more Grand Slam titles. “I definitely plan to come back,” she confirmed.

Likening her pregnancy to a break, Osaka continued: “It’s kind of like a break a little bit, but also I feel very competitive still. I really want to win more slams.”

When the seven-time title winner announced her pregnancy in January, she also shared her wish to play in front of her child one day. “I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future,” she wrote at the time.

“One thing I’m looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘that’s my mom’, haha.” Osaka had previously taken some breaks from competition unrelated to her pregnancy.

The Japanese star was the centre of a debate during the 2021 French Open when she announced that she would not carry out her press conference duties to protect her mental health. It led to the four Grand Slams issuing a joint statement threatening to disqualify Osaka if she continued to skip her pressers.

The former world No 1 then withdrew from the tournament and skipped Wimbledon that year before suffering a disappointing early exit at the US Open where she was the defending champion. She took an indefinite break but returned at the Australian Open and had some mixed results in 2022, with the highlight being an appearance in the Miami Open final.

Osaka’s most recent event came in Tokyo last September where she won her opening match via retirement when her opponent Daria Saville retired after injuring herself after one game. She then pulled out of her second round citing abdominal pain and has not competed since, later announcing her pregnancy.

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