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The women’s tour needs superstars and will benefit from former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka’s return following a 15-month break, top tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou said.
The four-time Grand Slam champion last played a WTA tournament at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in late September 2022 and had a daughter, Shai, in July this year.
Osaka will return to action at the Brisbane International, a warmup event ahead of the Australian Open, which takes place at Melbourne Park from January 14 to 28.
“I think it’s the best news for women’s tennis,” Mouratoglou, former coach of Serena Williams, told Eurosport.
“Now you have Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka, not that there are no others because of course there are many others, but I think those two are super exciting.”
“They are superstars, so they’re great for the WTA. The WTA needs superstars. We had so many great years with Serena, Venus (Williams), and Maria Sharapova, who are three really huge stars.”
“And I think it draws a lot of attention to women’s tennis when you have players like that. So I’m very excited that Naomi comes back. I think she’s great.”
Mouratoglou tipped Osaka to perform well on her comeback, saying her raw power and aggressive style would help her shake off any rust.
“She has such a huge game, huge shots. I think having the mindset, the will and the shots, she can really do some damage. She will be ready for the Australian Open. She will just lack matches,” the Frenchman added.
“So we’ll know quite fast if she’s able to be competitive immediately or if she will need a bit more time to become competitive. But I feel she will be competitive straight away.” – Rappler.com