Naomi Osaka has provided context for her absence from this year’s Australian Open, posting a photo and text to Twitter announcing that she is pregnant with her first child.
The 25-year-old tennis star and four-time grand slam champion posted a picture of a sonogram of a baby dated last month along with the message: “Can’t wait to get back on the court but here’s a little life update for 2023.”
She also included screenshots of a statement in both English and Japanese in which she wrote: “These few months away from the sport has really given me a new love and appreciation for the game I’ve dedicated my life to.
“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 some of my matches and tell someone, ‘That’s my mom.’”
Osaka officially withdrew from the Australian Open, which she has won twice, on Sunday, prompting questions and speculation over her absence. She added that she expected to return to Melbourne Park to take part in next year’s tournament.
The former world No 1, who has also won the US Open on two occasions, last played a competitive match at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September, where she won her opening match against Daria Saville before withdrawing ahead of her second-round tie with Beatriz Haddad Maia due to abdominal pain.
Osaka has been in a relationship with the North Carolina rapper Cordae since 2019, the same year she reached No 1 in the WTA rankings for the first time, with the pair shutting down rumors they had split as recently as August. A publicist for the Grammy-nominated musician confirmed to the Guardian that he is the father of Osaka’s child.
Osaka, who lifted the trophy in Melbourne in 2019 and 2021, is the latest in a line of recent Australian Open champions to take maternity leave.
Ashleigh Barty, last year’s winner, retired in March while holding the No 1 ranking before announcing that she was pregnant last week. Caroline Wozniacki, the 2018 champion, welcomed her second child with husband David Lee in October, while Serena Williams famously won the 2017 tournament while pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia.
Osaka has made several highly publicized revelations about her struggles with mental health since withdrawing from the 2021 French Open and disclosing that she had “suffered long bouts of depression” since capturing her breakthrough title at the 2018 US Open.
“I don’t think there’s a perfectly correct path to take in life but I always felt that if you move forward with good intentions you’ll find your way eventually,” she added on Wednesday.