Naomi Osaka said motherhood had given her a new outlook and the former world number one hoped to inspire her daughter Shai when she returned to the WTA tour at the Brisbane International that begins on Sunday.
The four-times Grand Slam champion last competed in a WTA tournament at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in late September 2022 and gave birth to her daughter in July this year, before announcing her highly-anticipated comeback four months later.
“Being a mum has changed my life a lot. I think it changed my perspective on a lot of things,” Osaka said on Friday during a visit to Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.
“Giving birth was one of the most painful things I’ve ever gone through. It’s definitely made me feel like physically I can handle a lot.
“I want to show Shai that she’s capable of everything, so that’s one of my main purposes and main reasons why I want to be back out here.”
Osaka begins her final preparations for the Jan. 14-28 Australian Open - which she won in 2019 and 2021 - by competing in a tournament where she has reached the semi-finals twice.
The Japanese player tempered expectations about her title prospects in Brisbane.
“I’ve given myself the biggest chance to do well, but at the same time, I haven’t had any match play,” Osaka said.
“I’m just embracing the fact that it’s my first tournament in a very long time. I’m just trying to have fun and do well at the same time.”
Muchova to skip Australian Open over wrist injury
World number eight Karolina Muchova said she would skip next year’s Australian Open because of a persistent wrist injury which already ruled her out of this year’s WTA Finals.
“This isn’t my favourite thing to share especially at the start of a new season, but unfortunately the pain in a wrist came back in the middle of my tennis preparation,” she said on Facebook.
“I therefore have to postpone the start of the season and fully heal my wrist first.”
“It’s frustrating but I have to keep positive, recover and get ready for the rest of the year. See you in 2025, Australian Open,” added the 27-year-old Czech.
Muchova injured her right wrist at the US Open in September, where she reached the semi-finals. In her best season so far, Muchova also reached the French Open final this year and climbed the WTA rankings from 149th at the end of 2022 to the current eighth spot.
Muchova’s best result at the Australian Open so far was a semi-final loss in 2021.
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