By Giulia Heyward
Naomi Osaka is pregnant — and says she could be returning to the tennis court next year.
Osaka shared the news, along with a photo of a sonogram, and messages, in both Japanese and English, on social media Wednesday afternoon.
“I know that I have so much to look forward to in the future, one thing I’m looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘that’s my mom,’ haha,” Osaka wrote.
The 25-year-old tennis star rose to prominence after defeating Serena Williams, one of the most influential players on the court, in the U.S. Open Final in 2018. Osaka’s subsequent victories in the Australian Open in 2019, the U.S. Open in 2020 and the Australian Open in 2021 quickly cemented her as one of just a few players to ever win their first four Grand Slam tournaments.
But the highest-paid female athlete in the world publicly opened up about her struggles with mental health after pulling out of the 2021 French Open. After announcing she wouldn’t take part in required media appearances, officials fined her $15,000 — and threatened to expel her from the tournament.
And after losing in the 2021 U.S. Open, Osaka announced that she would take an indefinite hiatus from tennis. Many athletes publicly praised Osaka for openly sharing her struggles with mental health.
“I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match,” Osaka told reporters in a news conference. “I think I’m gonna take a break from playing for a while.”
The announcement on Wednesday also comes days after Osaka said she would not be appearing in the 2023 Australian open. However, in the social media post, Osaka confirmed that she is expected to compete in the Australian Open in 2024. It’ll be Osaka’s first appearance on the court since competing at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo last September, when she withdrew due to illness.
Osaka also reflected on the time she’s taken off from the sport. In May, Osaka announced that she would be launching her own sports agency. Osaka also wrote a children’s book that was released last month.
“The past few years have been interesting to say the least, but I find that its the most challenging times in life that may be the most fun,” Osaka wrote Wednesday, adding that the months-long hiatus led to “a new love and appreciation for the game I’ve dedicated my life to.”
Osaka has been in a relationship with Grammy-nominated rapper Cordae since 2019. The two reflected on their years-long relationship, including meeting for the first time at an LA Clippers game, in a 2021 spread for GQ.
“I feel like he actually really helped me win just, like, keeping up the motivation,” Osaka told the magazine, while reflecting on the support he gave her while she quarantined for the U.S. Open in 2020.
On Wednesday, Osaka concluded her note saying: “I don’t think there’s a perfectly correct path to take in life but I always felt that if you move forward with good intentions you’ll find your way eventually.”