The former world No. 1 has been away from the courts for 15 months following her pregnancy and the subsequent birth of her first daughter, Shai. Naomi Osaka has been one of the most prominent players in the last five years, winning 4 Grand Slams, the same number as Iga Swiatek and second only to Venus Williams (7) among active players.
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In the months leading up to her break, Osaka struggled with consistency and often cited mental health issues as a factor when her performance dipped, failing to achieve significant results since her 2021 Australian Open title. The 18-times Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova recently shared her predictions for the 2024 season when the Japanese player will make a return to the courts after a lengthy hiatus:
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how this all unfolds. After the layoff, it’s going to take her time to get her match legs underneath her, the confidence flowing again. I just hope that she takes it slower, rather than too fast,” Navratilova said
“I’m thinking by Indian Wells, early March, she’ll be back in the mix, back to being her amazing self. She won the title there in 2018. It would be great for the sport to see her back at the top.”
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Naomi Osaka will make her return without a WTA ranking and will receive a wild card for the Brisbane International Open. Moreover, the 26-year-old athlete should have no trouble securing wild cards for major tournaments as she works on rebuilding her ranking.
As Osaka has previously stated, she is returning with the motivation to climb the WTA rankings and contend for significant titles. With seven titles in her career, including two US Open victories (2018, 2020), two Australian Open triumphs (2019, 2021), along with WTA 1000 wins at Indian Wells and the China Open, and the WTA 500 Torai Pan Pacific Open, Osaka is poised for a competitive comeback.