Naomi Osaka’s return to tennis is officially a go.
Osaka will return to the tennis court for the Brisbane International in January, just ahead of the 2024 Australian Open. It will mark her first professional match since September 2022.
“I am really excited about getting back out on court and competing. I always love starting my season in Brisbane and can’t wait to return,” Osaka said in a statement, via The Associated Press. "It will set me up for a brilliant comeback this summer.”
Osaka gave birth to her daughter, Shai, in July. Shortly afterward, she revealed plans to return to competition at the US Open and said that her goal was to get back by the Australian Open — which is where she won two of her four Grand Slam titles, most recently in 2021.
She said she started training after she and rapper Cordae welcomed their daughter, and she was even training a bit during her pregnancy.
“I’ve been watching matches, and I’ve kind of wished that I was playing, too,” Osaka said at the US Open in August. “But I’m in this position now, and I’m very grateful. I really love my daughter a lot, but I think that really fueled a fire in me.”
Osaka was originally scheduled to play in the Australian Open this year, but she withdrew from the tournament just a weeks before it started without reason. Days later, she revealed she was pregnant.
Osaka has vowed to compete in a busier schedule in 2024 in an effort to make up for the year she missed. The 26-year-old has not said what that schedule will look like. She is currently ranked No. 42 in the world.
"It's definitely way more tournaments than I used to play, so I think some people will be happy with that," Osaka said of her 2024 schedule in August. "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 that I have to kind of ease into it. So at the very least, I'm going to set myself up for a very good end of the year."
The Brisbane International will kick off Dec. 31 in Australia. Victoria Azarenka, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Holger Rune are set to compete, too.
The tournament hasn’t been held since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Karolina Pliskova was the last winner on the women’s side, and Kei Nishikori was the last winner on the men’s side in 2019. The ATP dropped the event in favor of the ATP Cup in 2019.