Naomi Osaka returned to tennis and returned to winning on Monday, defeating Tamara Korpatsch in the first round of the Brisbane International.
After taking a 6-3 win in the first set, she was broken while serving for the match 5-3 in the second set. Eventually, she won the second set in a tiebreaker, 7-6 (9). It was Osaka’s first win since giving birth to a daughter, Shai, in July.
Following the Brisbane International, Osaka will head to Melbourne for the 2024 Australian Open. The two-time Australian Open champion previously said that the year’s first Grand Slam would mark her return to tennis.
“I was super nervous the whole time,” the former No. 1-ranked Osaka said after her win. “A part of me felt like Shai was watching me. I wanted to do my best for her.”
And while the win didn’t come easy, Osaka looked sharp for someone who took a 15-month hiatus to give birth.
“Looking back on the match now, honestly I’m very proud of myself,” said Osaka. “I feel like I played at a pretty good level.”
Osaka is also looking at the sport differently than she did before.
“The last couple of years that I played before I had my daughter, I didn’t return as much love as I was given,” Osaka said. “I feel like that’s what I want to do in this chapter.
“I just really appreciate people coming out and knowing me and cheering for me, because I feel like there was a time I was just a little kid trying to watch my role models play. So it feels really surreal sometimes to be playing on these courts.”
Elsewhere, US Open champion Coco Gauff won her opener at the Auckland Tennis Classic, while World No. 1 Iga