Four-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one Naomi Osaka will make her highly anticipated return to tennis at the restored Brisbane International.
Chuffé officials confirmed on Friday that they had taken Osaka as a valuable draw card for the Australian Open preparatory event from December 31 to January 7.
Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka, former world number ones and multiple Grand Slam winners, also feature in a star-studded lineup that will once again grace Pat Rafter Arena.
A two-time Australian and US Open champion, Osaka was a surprise and mystery scratch at last year’s major at Melbourne Park before later revealing she was pregnant.
The Japanese superstar and her American rapper boyfriend Cordae welcomed their daughter Shai to the world in Los Angeles in July.
“Well that was a nice little intermission, now let’s get back to your regular schedule,” Osaka posted on social media.
“I can’t wait to get back on the field.”
The 26-year-old is the latest in a group of tennis moms, including fellow former Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber, to announce her return to tennis.
Osaka has only played one match, let alone a match, since the 2021 US Open in New York.
She led Daria Gavrilova 1-0 at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in September 2021, before the Australian tore her ACL.
Osaka then forfeited her second round match before taking time out to have her first child.
“She knows she’s going to maximize her preparation for Melbourne. It was an easy conversation but I’m delighted she’s coming back,” Brisbane International Tournament Director Cam Pearson said.
“To relaunch her career after becoming a mother, we couldn’t be more delighted that she has chosen Brisbane.”
Headlining Osaka is a fitting addition for the return of the Brisbane International, which has not taken place since 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the tournament off the international schedule.
But with a long list of heavyweight champions including Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Azarenka, Murray, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Nick Kyrgios, it is historically one of the most popular events in the world. year.
Pearson is also delighted to welcome Murray back, five years after the great Scot tearfully announced he had probably played his last Australian Open due to a chronic hip injury.
“It’s extraordinary, isn’t it,” Pearson said.
“For him to come back from that time and jump on that field will be great for him. It’s amazing that he’s still active.
“He’s a bionic man, isn’t he? He loves the game and I think he’ll keep playing until he loses that.”
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