Japanese tennis professional Naomi Osaka hasn’t stepped foot on a tennis court for a competitive match since September of 2022. Following the professional season that year, she announced her first pregnancy in January. Having given birth in July, the 26-year-old is preparing for her comeback next year.
She initially teased the return in an Instagram post announcing the birth of her daughter. “Well that was a cool little intermission, now back to your regularly scheduled program 🎾✌🏾💕,” she wrote in the caption. But she formally announced her plans in an interview with ESPN in early September, including her intention to play in the first Grand Slam of the 2024 season, the Australian Open.
The Melbourne tournament is set for mid-January. With her first competitive tournament since fall of 2022 quickly approaching, Osaka is back on the tennis court preparing for her comeback. In a recent TikTok, she shared a glimpse at her current practice routine, hitting deep forehands and backhands with a partner.
“one step at a time 🕚🕚🕚,” she captioned the short clip.
Osaka will be entering another year of competitive play with a newfound perspective, too. In a post commemorating her 26th birthday earlier this month, the former world No. 1 spoke of a feeling of “gratefulness,” which “reminds [her] to breathe and take in the little things (and the big ones),” particularly following the birth of her daughter.
We’re fairly certain her comeback will be big. But no matter the outcome at the Australian Open—or throughout the remainder of the season—we will be there to cheer the tennis star on.