Naomi Osaka Named Her Baby Shai, Which Means 'God’s Gift'

naomi osaka baby
All About Naomi Osaka’s Baby, ShaiRobert Prange - Getty Images

Naomi Osaka has been a huge name in tennis for years, but the four-time Grand Slam winner took a pause last year to welcome her daughter, Shai. Now, Naomi is back in the game and playing in the Billie Jean King Cup this weekend.

Naomi is looking to qualify for the Summer Olympics. If she qualifies, it will be her second Olympic games after coming in 9th in the 2020 games. The 26-year-old has championed the importance of paid leave and made it very clear that she’s still very much dialed in to tennis while juggling motherhood.

Of course, Naomi is best known for being a star on the court and you may have missed the fact that she had a baby. Here’s what you need to know about her journey to motherhood.

Naomi announced her pregnancy in January 2023.

Naomi shared the big news in January 2023 that she was pregnant. “The past few years have been interesting to say the least, but I find that it's the most challenging times in life that may be the most fun,” she wrote on Instagram at the time in a post that’s been removed. “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.'”

Naomi also shared that she planned be back on the court in 2024.

She and boyfriend Cordae welcomed baby Shai in July.

Naomi’s daughter was born in July, according to People. “They are doing well," a source told the magazine at the time. Naomi previously told Vogue that she was “really excited” to be a mom. “Everyone I know that has had a kid, it has changed their life,” she said. “I don’t think I can prepare for it. I think I’m gonna have to go with the flow.”

Naomi and Cordae named their daughter Shai, which mean’s “God’s gift.”

"That’s how I wanted her to feel, like she’s God’s gift to me and her dad," Naomi told ESPN.

Shai made her debut in January 2024.

Naomi is pretty private about her personal life. However, Naomi posed with Shai—who was photographed from behind—for Glamour magazine in January. "I feel so strong. People talk about childbirth, but it's different once you experience it," she said. "I just feel like I can do anything, and nothing will bother me, and the pain tolerance has definitely increased a lot from that. I just don't really care about other people's opinions anymore."

Naomi also said that parenthood has been a “growing-up moment” for her. “Even from last year to this year, I feel like a completely different person,” she said. “Just finding my voice and knowing what I want to stand for, and knowing the things that are important to me is something that I've had to learn throughout the years."

Naomi returned to tennis that same month.

Naomi started playing tennis again in January at the Australian Open. She left baby Shai at home, and told that it was “really hard” to be away from her child.

"She's learning things while I'm gone. I'm hoping she doesn't learn how to crawl before I come back,” she said. “She's doing her little plank thing and scooting forward and back. I think it might be a little inevitable.”

Naomi also said it was best for Shai to stay home. "I'm definitely sad, but I feel like it's a selfish sad because I want her to be here. But I think for her health and like her whole environment is at home-you know what I mean? I don't want to put her out of that while she's still so young,” she said.

Naomi is an advocate for paid family and medical leave.

Naomi has become an activist for paid family and medical leave in the U.S., doing an ad campaign for the formula brand, Bobbie. (America is one of only six countries in the world without a national paid parental leave policy, and the majority of Americans don’t have paid leave through their jobs.) Naomi also introduced 50 cash grants with Bobbie for 50 families to provide interim support while advocating for federal paid leave.

“When I heard the stats, I was really shocked,” she told Glamour. “I’m lucky enough to not have to go straight into work, but I really needed that time to process everything that’s happened and, of course, get to know my baby. And to see that there are so many women that don’t have that choice and they have to immediately go straight to work is really sad.”

She’s inspired by her daughter.

Naomi said during her return to tennis that she wants to win because of her daughter. “I felt, I don’t know, like a part of me felt like Shai was watching me. I wanted to do my best for her,” she said on the court in January after a match, per Tennis 365. Naomi also said that she’s been inspired to interact more with fans after becoming a mom.

“The last couple of years that I played before I had my daughter, I didn’t return as much love as I was given,” she 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."

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