Former World No. 1 Osaka has already seen a lot of success in her career, having won four Grand Slam titles - two at the Australian Open and two at the US Open. However, the Japanese player has been absent for the past year after she announced in January that she was pregnant with her first child.
Osaka gave birth to her daughter Shai in July and made it clear that she wanted to come back to the sport. Since then, she has been providing regular updates on her training and has confirmed that she will return at the Brisbane International in the first week of January 2024.
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Osaka wants be back among the best
Now, Osaka's coach Zitzelsberger has revealed that the 26-year-old is aiming to get back to her top form in order to re-gain the World No. 1 ranking (currently held by Iga Swiatek), and to win more Grand Slam titles. Osaka first reached the top of the WTA Ranking in January 2019, building up a total of 25 weeks in the position.
"Where she is today is what makes working with her so inspiring. She wants to get back to world No. 1, she wants to win Grand Slams. She gives me the impression of someone who is totally balanced and happy with herself. She’s very much grounded, mature and embracing the beauty of motherhood," Zitzelsberger said, while also calling the tennis star "super motivated."
While Osaka has already proven her ability to rise to the top and hold her own among the other best players in the world, fans on social media have noted some of the challenges she could face along the way. "Pulling for Naomi! But the bar is way higher than when Naomi left the game. She is going to have to have a new game with new tools in the toolbox," wrote one.
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Osaka's main rivals upon her return will be World No. 1 Swiatek, as well as the likes of Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff, and Elena Rybakina. Moreover, former World No. 1's Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki will also be returning around the same time, and will no doubt be aiming to get as close to the top as possible.