The 25-year-old former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka plans to play professional tennis again in 2024, she revealed in a Wednesday interview.
The four-time major winner, who gave birth to a daughter in July with her partner, rapper Cordae, said she intends to play a full schedule in 2019.
“It’s definitely way more tournaments than I used to play,” Osaka told ESPN. “So, I think some people will be happy with that.”
Osaka, who last played at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2022, previously declared she would make a comeback in time for the 2024 Australian Open, which she has previously won twice.
When asked if she missed playing tennis while she took a sabbatical, Osaka said, “Definitely.”
Following an event in 2021 in which she was visibly upset and stressed out while addressing the media during a required news conference at Roland Garros, Osaka took a break from playing competitive tennis and made several widely known confessions about her difficulties with mental health.
She then withdrew from that year’s French Open and disclosed she had “suffered long bouts of depression” ever since winning her maiden major title in 2018.
Osaka stated that becoming an advocate for mental health awareness and sharing her experiences with mental health helped her learn a lot.
“I feel like I am someone that’s learning all the time. Obviously, I learned a lot from the talk as I was talking,” Osaka said. “I would say my role is just raising awareness and letting people know that they’re not alone.
“Physical pain and mental pain are sort of the same to me. We have doctors for physical health but when we talk about mental health it’s not as well received, so just raising awareness on that.”
She was also asked over earlier remarks she made about feeling “lonely” while pregnant.
“I definitely only know this world, the tennis world,” Osaka said. “Just being away from that for a long time, it was new for me. I think it was just the new situation and not being able to train like I wanted to, it made me feel like I would just stay at home. … It felt like a lot of restrictions.”
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