Naomi Osaka announces pregnancy, future return to tennis

Naomi Osaka
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Naomi Osaka is pregnant and plans to return to tennis by the January 2024 Australian Open, her agent confirmed.

Osaka, 25 years old and a four-time Grand Slam singles champion, shared a sonogram dated Dec. 12 on social media on Wednesday.

“One thing I’m looking forward to is for my kid to watch one of my matches and tell someone, ‘that’s my mom’, haha,” Osaka posted. “2023 will be a year that’ll be full of lessons for me and I hope I’ll see you guys in the start of the next one cause I’ll be at Aus 2024.”

Osaka, ranked 47th in the world, last played in September. She can freeze her ranking through her absence to remain eligible for direct entry into tournaments upon her return.

Last Sunday, Australian Open organizers said that Osaka, the Open champion in 2019 and 2021, will not be playing at the major tournament that starts next week. A reason was not given.

In Osaka’s most recent match, she withdrew during the second round of September’s Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. She won her first round match at that tournament when Australia’s Daria Saville withdrew after one game with a knee injury.

Osaka won one completed match since May and was beaten in the first round of her three previous tournaments, including the U.S. Open at which she also is a two-time champion.

Last week she posted pictures on social media of a trip to Europe with her United States rapper boyfriend Cordae and had been considered unlikely to play in the first Grand Slam of the season.

Osaka took a mental health break after missing the 2021 French Open, lit the Tokyo Olympic cauldron and later said she had been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years.

“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,” Osaka posted Wednesday. “I realize that life is so short and I don’t take any moments for granted, everyday is a new blessing and adventure.”

There is a history of major tennis champions returning from pregnancy to have more success. Belgian Kim Clijsters retired at age 23 in 2007, had daughter Jada at age 24 and returned to competition at age 26, winning in her third tournament back, the U.S. Open. She repeated at the U.S. Open the next year and won her fourth and final major at the 2011 Australian Open.

Serena Williams finished runner-up at four majors after her life-threatening pregnancy and childbirth at age 35 in 2017.

Australian Evonne Goolagong had a daughter at age 25, then won the Australian Open seven months later. Three years after that, she became the first (and so far only) mom to win Wimbledon in the Open Era.

Margaret Court had her first child at age 29 in 1972, then won three majors the following year.

Ash Barty, who won the French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open from 2019-22, announced last week she was pregnant. She retired last year while holding the No. 1 ranking.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Olympic 400m champion, announces pregnancy

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Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, the two-time reigning Olympic 400m champion, announced she is pregnant with her first child.

“New Year, New Blessing,” she posted on social media with husband Maicel Uibo, the 2019 World Championships silver medalist in the decathlon for Estonia. “We can’t wait to meet our little bundle of joy.”

Miller-Uibo, 28, followed her repeat Olympic title in Tokyo by winning her first world indoor and outdoor titles last year.

Also last year, Miller-Uibo said she planned to drop the 400m and focus on the 200m going into the 2024 Paris Games rather than possibly bid to become the first woman to win the same individual Olympic running event three times.

She has plenty of experience in the 200m, making her world championships debut in that event in 2013 and placing fourth. She earned 200m bronze at the 2017 Worlds, was the world’s fastest woman in the event in 2019 and petitioned for a Tokyo Olympic schedule change to make a 200m-400m double easier. The petition was unsuccessful.

She did both races anyway, finishing last in the 200m final, 1.7 seconds behind the penultimate finisher on the same day of the 400m first round.

She did not race the 200m at last July’s worlds, where the 200m and 400m overlapped.

Notable moms to win individual Olympic sprint titles include American Wilma Rudolph, who swept the 100m, 200m and 4x100m at the 1960 Rome Olympics two years after having daughter Yolanda.

And Dutchwoman Fanny Blankers-Koen, who won four gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, when the mother of two also held world records in the high jump and long jump, two events in which she didn’t compete at those Games.

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Germany goes 1-2 at bobsled worlds; Kaillie Humphries breaks medals record

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Kim Kalicki and Lisa Buckwitz gave Germany a one-two in the world bobsled championships two-woman event, while American Kaillie Humphries earned bronze to break the career medals record.

Kalicki, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics and leads this season’s World Cup standings, edged Buckwitz by five hundredths of a second combining times from four runs over the last two days in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Humphries, with push athlete Kaysha Love, was 51 hundredths behind.

Olympic champion Laura Nolte was in third place after two runs but crashed in the third run.

Humphries, 37 and a three-time Olympic champion between two-woman and monobob, earned her eighth world championships medal in the two-woman event. That broke her tie for the record of seven with retired German Sandra Kiriasis. Humphries is also the most decorated woman in world championships monobob, taking gold and silver in the two times it has been contested.

Humphries rolled her ankle after the first day of last week’s monobob, plus took months off training in the offseason while also doing two rounds of IVF.

“I chose to continue the IVF journey through the season which included a Lupron Depot shot the day before this race began,” she posted after her monobob silver last weekend. “My weight and body fluctuating all year with hormones, it was a battle to find my normal while competing again. I’m happy with this result, I came into it wanting a podium and we achieved it as a team.”

Love, who was seventh with Humphries in the Olympic two-woman event, began her transition to become a driver after the Games.

Worlds finish Sunday with the final two runs of the four-man event.

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