Naomi Osaka announces pregnancy and promises return in 2024

After Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the Australian Open confused many observers, the former world number one has announced that she is pregnant and taking a break from tennis.

Former world number one Naomi Osaka announced overnight that she is pregnant and will take a break from tennis until 2024.

“I know I have so much to look forward to in the future. One thing I’m looking forward to is my kid seeing my games and saying to someone, ‘That’s my mom,’ haha,” she wrote on Twitter, accompanied by an ultrasound of a pregnancy test.

“2023 will be a year of lessons for me and I hope to see you at the start of the next one as I will be back at the Australian Open in 2024. I love you all infinitely,” she added.

Osaka, 25, has not played a tennis match since September and her withdrawal from the Australian Open, which begins next week, has puzzled many observers.

Her social media posts over the past few months had featured her traveling around Europe with her boyfriend, American rapper Cordae.

The two have been together since 2019.

Osaka only announced her absence on Thursday, when she released what she called a “little life update for 2023.”

Osaka’s last tournament appearance was in September at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, where the home favorite withdrew before her second-round match due to a stomach ache.

The US-raised Japanese star, who was world number one in 2019, is now number 47 in the world.

Osaka has won four Grand Slam singles titles with triumphs at the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021 and the US Open in 2018 and 2020.

She has been open about her struggles with mental health and depression in the past and took a break from sport after the French Open in 2021 before returning to the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

With a string of lucrative endorsement deals around the world, including several top Japanese brands, she has been named the world’s highest-earning female athlete for 2022 by Forbes with reported earnings of $51.1 million.

However, her commercial success was not reflected on the court last year, as she suffered first-round losses at both the French Open and the US Open and retired from Wimbledon with an Achilles injury.

Osaka has also been vocal about various causes, and in 2020 she said she would not play in her semifinals at the Cincinnati Open in response to the shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. According to her statement, the tournament was suspended for a day.

Osaka’s recent absence from the tour had fueled speculation about her future in the game, but on Thursday she said her hiatus has given her a new perspective on the sport.

“Those few months away from sports have really given me a renewed love and appreciation for the sport that I have dedicated my life to,” she wrote.

“I realize that life is so short and I don’t take a moment for granted; every day is a new blessing and a new adventure.” In recent years, it has become increasingly common for players to resume their careers after childbirth.

Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Kim Clijsters all returned to the court to continue competing after becoming mothers.


Originally published as Australian Open News: Naomi Osaka announces pregnancy and promises return in 2024 Naomi Osaka announces pregnancy and promises return in 2024

Ryan Sederquist

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