Naomi Osaka is planning to stay busy in 2024.
The four-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her first child, daughter Shai, in July. While she has not played in 2023, she plans to make her comeback next year — and when she does, she wants to up her game.
Osaka, 25, aims to make her return at the Australian Open, she told ESPN on Wednesday. And from there, she will be playing in “way more tournaments than I used to play.”
“I think some people will be happy with that,” she said, noting that she trained as much as she could during pregnancy, including hitting with Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf.
“I think it’s because I realized that I don’t know how the beginning of the year is going to go for me. I don’t know the level of play and I think I have to ease into it. So at the very least, I’m going to set myself up for a very good end of the year.”
The former world No. 1 has won the Australian Open twice, including her most recent major title in 2021. Osaka said that her pregnancy, which she announced at the beginning of this year, helped her realize that she “definitely” missed competing.
“I’ve been watching matches and I’m like, ‘I wish I was playing too,’” Osaka said. “But I’m in this position now and I’m very grateful. I really love my daughter a lot, but I think it really fueled a fire in me.”