The status of four-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world number one, Naomi Osaka, for the upcoming Australian Open is unclear according to reports. The two-time Australian Open champion is on the entry list for women’s singles, but tournament officials don’t believe she will be in Melbourne when action begins on Jan. 15.
Where in the world is Naomi Osaka?
Osaka is a two-time Aussie Open champ (’19, ’21) but hasn’t played a tennis match in four months. She isn’t at any of the warm-up events in Australia or New Zealand and hasn’t really been seen or heard from on social media since last fall.
The latest posts on her official Instagram account are from her time in Europe when she was with her boyfriend, rapper Cordae, during his European tour.
It does seem entirely likely that Naomi Osaka is going to withdraw from the #AusOpen at this point, but this article is entirely wrong about her being in Europe last week.
That was a photo dump from a trip back in October, during Cordae’s tour there. https://t.co/AG8lnoUtwy
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) January 5, 2023
What is Naomi Osaka’s current ranking?
Osaka’s ranking has plummeted to #42. Last year, she advanced to the third round in Australia, but failed to get past the first round at the French and U.S. Opens. She missed Wimbledon altogether and has so for the last two years.
Last season was also injury-filled for Osaka as she dealt with abdominal, Achilles, ankle and back issues.
Osaka has also been open about her struggles with mental health. She burst onto the scene in 2018, winning her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open, defeating Serena Williams in the final. The match was marred by a partisan Williams crowd, an argument between Williams and the chair umpire and a tearful trophy ceremony that Osaka really didn’t enjoy.
She catapulted into the top-5 and became increasingly popular, and the media attention was fast and heavy.
How is Naomi Osaka’s mental health?
She’s dealt with depression since 2018, and is one of the athletes that has helped push the conversation of mental health to the forefront.
In 2021, Osaka put all her cards on the table when she withdrew from the French Open and made her struggles public.
“The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US Open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” she said in a statement.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’m introverted, and anyone that has seen me at the tournaments will notice that I’m often wearing headphones as that helps dull my social anxiety. Though the tennis press has always been kind to me (and I wanna apologize especially to all the cool journalists who I may have hurt), I am not a natural public speaker and get huge waves of anxiety before I speak to the world’s media. I get really nervous and find it stressful to always try to engage and give you the best answers I can.”
Osaka’s vulnerability in that moment garnered a lot of support from her fellow athletes around the world. But it also yielded criticism from those who choose not to see athletes as human beings. She’s learning how to avoid the negative opinions. She’s also been healing and dealing with issues that affect her more profoundly than tennis.
For the sport of tennis and its fans, it would be great to have Osaka return and see if she can challenge the game’s hallowed records and have intense rivalries with Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula and the other top women on tour.
But Osaka is showing that if it is to be, it will be on her timetable. She certainly has the money to continue her MIA tour and the tennis world will be waiting with open arms when she decides to return.