Naomi Osaka gears up for return hoping to inspire daughter Shai


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Naomi Osaka gears up for return hoping to inspire daughter Shai

ALL SMILES. Naomi Osaka celebrates after match point against Belinda Bencic.

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka prepares for a return to competitive tennis after a year-long absence due to childbirth

Naomi Osaka said motherhood had given her a new outlook and the former world No. 1 player hoped to inspire her daughter Shai when she returned to the WTA tour at the Brisbane International that begins on Sunday, December 31.

The four-time Grand Slam champion last competed in a WTA tournament at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in late September 2022 and gave birth to her daughter in July this year, before announcing her highly-anticipated comeback four months later.

“Being a mum has changed my life a lot. I think it changed my perspective on a lot of things,” Osaka said on Friday during a visit to Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.

“Giving birth was one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. It’s definitely made me feel like physically I can handle a lot. I want to show Shai that she’s capable of everything, so that’s one of my main purposes and main reasons why I want to be back out here.”

Osaka begins her final preparations for the January 14-28 Australian Open – which she won in 2019 and 2021 – by competing in a tournament where she has reached the semi-finals twice.

The Japanese player tempered expectations about her title prospects in Brisbane.

“I’ve given myself the biggest chance to do well, but at the same time, I haven’t had any match play,” Osaka said.

“I’m just embracing the fact that it’s my first tournament in a very long time. I’m just trying to have fun and do well at the same time.” –

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