Naomi Osaka continues to put in the hard yards in training ahead of her long-awaited comeback at the start of next season.
The Japanese tennis star shared a short video on her social media platforms of her intense practice session on hard courts, with her return to tennis expected to happen during the Australian summer in January 2024. It's the second time Osaka has updated tennis fans on her progress on the court.
The former World No. 1 last played on the WTA Tour in autumn 2022 at the Japan Open, but subsequently pulled out from the tournament due to abdominal pain. Osaka would not be seen anywhere near a tennis court for many months after taking maternity leave.
She had pulled out from the Australian Open this year citing pregnancy and announced that she would rejoin the tour in 2024. Osaka gave birth to a baby girl in July. In her time away from the sport, the four-time Grand Slam winner has learned to embrace her limited time as a professional and has redeveloped a newfound perspective of the sport she loves.
The 26-year-old intends to play a packed schedule in her first year on tour as a mother. She'll be looking to follow in the footsteps of active mothers who have enjoyed highly productive seasons in the second stints of their careers, and who have paved the way as role models for those looking to follow that journey.
Players like Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina, Tatjana Maria, and more recently Caroline Wozniacki, who came out of retirement, should inspire Naomi Osaka that it is possible to strike a balance between life as a professional and as a mother.
Osaka is currently unranked and will be using her protected ranking to enter into WTA tournaments next year. While the expectations within the tennis fraternity will be low, she will still command a great deal of respect from fellow players and fans because of her impressive accomplishments.