Former world number one Naomi Osaka has been given the green light to compete for Japan at next month’s Paris Olympics, the country’s tennis association said on Thursday.
Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori has also been cleared to play, the Japan Tennis Association said.
Four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021, where she went on to make the third round.
She has since become a mother and returned to tennis late last year after a 15-month maternity break.
The 26-year-old is currently ranked 125th in the world. The singles event at the Olympics is limited to 64 players with a maximum of four from each nation.
The International Tennis Federation cleared her to compete in Paris by awarding her a special ranking for players who have been away from the tour, the JTA said.
She also qualifies as a former Grand Slam winner, the JTA said.
Nishikori, who has seen his world ranking slip to 286 after a series of injuries, was also given a special ranking that allows him to compete at the Olympics.
Osaka said after playing for Japan in the Billie Jean King Cup in Tokyo in April that she “would love to play” in Paris.
“Growing up watching the Olympics on TV, I felt that it was a celebration of sport,” she said.
“I thought it brought everyone together and just to be able to be an athlete there and interact with other athletes is one of the funniest things that I’ve ever done.”
“And if I do play, I have high ambitions of myself and I hope that I can do really well and get a medal,” she added.
Wimbledon serves up record prize money of 50mn
Wimbledon will have a record £50mn ($63.94mn) prize money pot this year with singles champions taking home 2.7mn each, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said on Thursday.
The total prize money is 11.9%, or £5.3mn, more than offered at last year’s tournament. First round singles losers will each get £60,000.
The grasscourt Grand Slam runs from July 1-14. Carlos Alcaraz and Marketa Vondrousova are the men’s and women’s champions respectively.
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