JAPAN: Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, has announced her pregnancy, days after withdrawing from the Australian Open.
Naomi Osaka announces her pregnancy on Instagram handle
The former Japanese world number one, Osaka, took to Instagram and wrote a heartfelt note saying, “I can’t wait to get back on the court, but here’s a little life update for 2023.”
“One thing I am looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘That’s my mom’,” she wrote. The 25-year-old tennis star has been in a relationship with rapper Cordae for years.
Initially, no official reason was provided by the Australian Open when the tournament announced on Saturday that Osaka, a two-time event champion, had withdrawn from this year’s tournament.
Osaka, 25, who won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, last played in September, when she withdrew from the Pan Pacific Open in Japan after the second round.
She took a five-month mental health break in September 2021 and didn’t play again after the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, shortly after losing in the first round of the US Open.
After her return, she lost in the first round of the US Open, the third round of the Australian Open, then the first round of the French Open, and missed Wimbledon due to injury.
The hard-court specialist, who has made her mental health issues public, has dropped to No. 47 in the global rankings and hasn’t made it past the third round of a Grand Slam since winning the 2021 Australian Open.
With reported earnings of $51.1 million, Forbes dubbed her the highest-paid female athlete in the world for 2022. Osaka is the latest high-profile tennis player to take a hiatus from competition because of pregnancy.
Earlier, three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber of Germany announced her pregnancy in August, indicating that she would play again after giving birth. Serena Williams also took a sabbatical in 2017 to give birth. She returned the same year and continued to compete until she retired in 2022.
At the first major of the year, in addition to Osaka, a number of other notable tennis players will be missed, including the defending champion, Ashleigh Barty, who announced her retirement in March at the age of 25. Barty revealed last week that she is expecting her first child.
Also, Carlos Alcaraz, the world’s No. 1 men’s player, and Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, will miss the season’s first major due to injuries.
Osaka, though, declared that she would pick up tennis again and that she intended to be in Melbourne for the opening of the Grand Slam season the next year.
Melbourne Park will host the Australia Open from January 16 to January 29. The top seed and clear favourite to win the women’s competition, Iga Swiatek, is ranked No. 1 in the world.
Rafael Nadal, the defending champion, will be the No. 1 seed for men and will be vying for his third Australian Open championship.
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