Naomi Osaka says she intends to return for the 2024 Australian Open and is planning to compete at “way more tournaments than I used to play”.
Osaka cut down her schedule over the last couple of seasons before announcing earlier this year that she was pregnant.
The former world No. 1 gave birth in July, and this week was speaking at a mental health forum at the US Open, where she won two of her four Grand Slam titles.
“I feel a lot of joy coming back here. It’s kind of like seeing an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Osaka hasn’t competed on tour since September 2022, shortly after she lost in the first round of the US Open.
She explained: “It’s definitely been really interesting. The whole process. It felt long and short at the same time.
“When I stepped away…I just remember watching the Australian Open and being very devastated, because I’ve never missed an Australian Open.
“I was just thinking when I was watching Serena and Venus (Williams), I was thinking, ‘I probably, no way, will ever play at their age.’ But sitting here, I’m like, ‘No, you know what? I might do that.’”
She added that time away from tennis has “really raised my love for the sport and it made me realise I’m not going to play forever. I have to embrace the times. I’ve been playing tennis since I was three.
“I don’t think I can predict what I’ll do – I never am able to do that – but it definitely made me appreciate a lot of things that I took for granted.”
Speaking to ESPN about her return, Osaka said she is planning to play “way more tournaments than I used to play. Some people will be happy about that.
“I think it’s because I don’t know how the beginning of the year is going to go for me.
“I think I don’t know the level of play, so I have to ease in for it, so I have to set myself up for a very good end of year.”
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