Despite her first-round loss at the 2024 Australian Open, four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka highlighted the positive aspects of her return to professional tennis after a 15-month hiatus.
A former champ returns: Osaka, who won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, returned to the Grand Slam stage on Jan. 15, just six months after she gave birth to her daughter, Shai, in July 2023. The 26-year-old athlete lost 6-4, 7-6 (2) to 16th-seeded Caroline Garcia in a close match at the prestigious Rod Laver Arena, reported the Associated Press.
Positive reflections: While her first-round defeat marked an early exit, the Haitian Japanese tennis star chose to highlight the positive aspects of her return in her post-match press conference. She expressed gratitude for the crowd's support and reflected on the joy of being back on the court. Acknowledging the need for realistic expectations, she also noted the importance of self-compassion.
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Osaka told reporters:
"I have to tell myself, 'Hey, like six months ago you were pregnant,' stuff like that. Of course, there's a voice in my head that is [saying], 'Who are you to think you can come back and immediately start winning matches?' I don't know. I kind of always expect myself to stand a chance, anyway. So I guess just being nicer to myself is like a key thing that I learned in my time away."
What's next for her: Osaka identified several areas for improvement, including her return of serve, shot tolerance and movement. She remains committed to regaining her top form, emphasizing the need for practice and match experience.
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"So I wouldn't say this comeback is how I thought [it would go] because I'm delusional enough to think I could have won the tournament,” she said. "I think I just have to keep living day by day and training hard, and playing a lot more matches, and hopefully my dreams will come true."
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