Naomi Osaka says she “felt lonely” during her pregnancy after confirming a return to Grand Slam action at next year’s Australian Open.
The four-time Grand Slam champion gave birth to her first child, daughter Shai, in July, but has already resumed training with an eye on next year.
Osaka, 25, who has been open about her struggles with mental health, was at the US Open to speak on a panel along with former Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps. She also took time to watch some of the action at Flushing Meadows.
I’m in this position now and I’m very grateful. I really love my daughter a lot, but it has really fueled a fire in me.
“For me coming back here, it means a lot. This room, in particular. There were some tears shed. A lot,” Osaka, who won two of her Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadows, said in the tournament’s main interview room. “I feel a lot of joy coming back here. It’s kind of like seeing an old friend I haven’t seen in a long time.”
Osaka revealed her issues with depression and anxiety when she withdrew from the French Open in 2021.
She later took extended breaks from the game to protect her mental health, and discussing her latest time away, she said: “I really raised my love for the sport and it made me realise I’m not going to play forever. I have to embrace the times. I’ve been playing tennis since I was three.
“I don’t think I can predict what I’ll do – I never am able to do that – but it definitely made me appreciate a lot of things that I took for granted.”
Osaka also spoke about how she “felt lonely” during her pregnancy, while Phelps spoke about a “breaking point” nearly 10 years ago, “where I didn’t want to be alive”.
“I literally didn’t talk about anything I was going through with my own family for 10 years and then it just – I was a volcano that erupted,” he said. “Instead of talking about it, I just let it build.”
The former world No 1, said she agreed to the larger workload next year because she is unsure how she will fair when she returns and wants to ensure she gets enough playing time as she eases herself back onto the tour.
“At least I’m going to set myself up for a very good end of the year,” she said. “I’ve been watching matches and I’m like, I wish I was playing too.
“But I’m in this position now and I’m very grateful. I really love my daughter a lot, but it has really fueled a fire in me.”
The US Open on Sky Sports
Sky welcomes tennis back to its channels, adding to the existing sports portfolio and reaffirming the broadcaster as the home of live sport in the UK & Ireland.
Sky Sports’ new mixed reality studio features multiple custom built LED screens, integrated light ‘sabres’, and an open canopy roof, making the space alive with colour and energy to reflect the vibrancy of the last Grand Slam of the year.
With integrated AR capabilities, a versatile LED floor, and a ‘fourth wall’, the viewer will be transported to the Arthur Ashe Stadium in a 360-degree immersive environment. Our tennis experts will take the viewer into the eyes of the players for expert Hawkeye analysis and insight as the tournament progresses.
The technology involved allows us to add an entire new dimension and will bring customers closer to the action.
Highlights of matches will be available across Sky Sports TV and our social media platforms.
Video highlights will also be available of the Sky Sports website and app, where there will also be a daily live text commentary on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as live scores, reports, analysis and features.
Stream the US Open on Sky Sports with NOW. Cancel anytime.