c994d02922b4f232d0dcff70499775a7084fa52a Naomi Osaka plans a busy schedule for her return to competition in 2024
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Naomi Osaka plans a busy schedule for her return to competition in 2024

Naomi Osaka
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

In a highly anticipated return to the US Open, Naomi Osaka revealed her plans to compete in the 2024 season. The 25-year-old tennis star, who hasn't played a match since September 2022, took a break from the sport to give birth to her daughter, Shai, in July. However, during an exclusive interview with ESPN at Flushing Meadows, Osaka expressed her strong desire to get back on the court and compete once again.

Visiting the site where she achieved major victories in the past seemed to reignite the spark within Osaka. She admitted that being at the US Open gave her an "itch" to compete and reminded her of the immense joy she experiences while playing tennis. Prior to her return, Osaka had been training rigorously in preparation for her comeback. Despite the physical demands of training so soon after giving birth, she assured that it hasn't been hard on her body, as she had also trained during her pregnancy.

Looking forward to the 2024 season, Osaka revealed her ambition to make up for lost time by participating in a busy schedule. She has already cemented her plans to make a strong comeback at the Australian Open, which is the first major tournament of the year. Her previous victories in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021 undoubtedly fuel her determination to reclaim her winning form.

Beyond discussing her return to tennis, Osaka also opened up about her personal struggles with depression and anxiety. In 2021, she withdrew from the French Open, shedding light on the importance of mental health in the sports industry. Osaka joined former Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps on a panel discussion focused on mental health, emphasizing the need for greater awareness and support for athletes' mental well-being.

During her pregnancy, Osaka admitted to feeling loneliness and experiencing a sense of devastation as she missed her first Australian Open. However, she found inspiration from her tennis idols, Serena and Venus Williams. While watching them continue to compete at an advanced age, she realized that there is no reason why she couldn't do the same. Osaka expressed her belief that she could continue playing tennis well into her thirties, following in the footsteps of Serena Williams, who reached four grand slam finals after becoming a mother.

Osaka's ultimate hope is to make her daughter proud and inspire her with her achievements on the court. She aspires to play tennis until Shai is old enough to say, "Wow, that's my mom!" With her unyielding determination and impressive track record, it will undoubtedly be a joy to witness Osaka's return to the sport she loves and to see her continue to inspire others with her remarkable tennis career.

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