Naomi Osaka news: Former world No 1 ‘at peace’ and out to ‘appreciate every tournament’ after 2021 hiatus

Naomi Osaka in action

Naomi Osaka has some inner harmony ahead of the BNP Paribas Open with the four-time Grand Slam winner determined to enjoy life and tennis following a difficult couple of months.

The former world No 1 played only four events during the second half of the 2021 season after she withdrew from the French Open as she opened up about her battle with mental health issues with the announcement coming off the back of her decision not to do mandatory press conferences at Roland Garros.

She started her 2022 season in Melbourne where she reached the semi-final of the WTA 250 event while her Australian Open title defence was ended in the third round by Amanda Anisimova.

After nearly two months on the sidelines, Osaka will return to action in Indian Wells this week and she has a fresh perspective on life.

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“Honestly, I feel like I’m at peace with myself, which I think is a great feeling to have as a person,” she said.

“For me, the biggest focus this year is, of course, I want to do well in every tournament,” she added.

“But I think just knowing that I tried as hard as I could and I enjoyed myself … I felt the difference in Australia.

“I actually left the court thinking, ‘You know what, I did my best.’ And I had match points. That was pretty good.”

Osaka has a tricky opener at the WTA 1000 event as she will face former US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the first round.

But for the 24-year-old it is all about appreciating life on the WTA Tour while she can.

“I’ve learned to enjoy my time more,” the Japanese star said.

“This moment in my life, playing tennis, I’ve trained my entire life for it. But when I’m 70, it will probably be a small chapter for me. So I have to enjoy it while I still can.

“I’m just trying to appreciate every tournament.”