Serena Williams shares excitement for ‘amazing’ return of rival Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka: Pundits discuss French Open withdrawal

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Serena Williams has shared her excitement for friend and rival Naomi Osaka’s return to tennis. The four-time Grand Slam champion said she would be taking a break following her early loss at the US Open in September. The world No 13 had withdrawn from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon earlier in the year, citing her mental health.

Osaka has not been seen on the match court since early September.

The defending US Open champion was defeated by then-18-year-old Leylah Annie Fernandez 7-5 6-7(2) 4-6 in the third-round, leaving the court in tears.

Speaking after her shock early exit, the former world No 1 announced she would be taking an indefinite break from tennis, and has not competed for the rest of the year, with the WTA Tour season set to come to a conclusion with the final of the WTA Finals on Wednesday (November 17).

“This is very hard to articulate. Basically I feel like I’m kind of at this point where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do, and I honestly don’t know when I’m going to play my next tennis match. Sorry,” Osaka said in her post-match press conference at the time.

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“I think I’m going to take a break from playing for a while.

“How do I go around saying this? I feel like for me recently when I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don’t think that’s normal. I didn’t really want to cry.”

The four-time Grand Slam champion now looks set to make a comeback at January’s season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne, as she recently shared photos of herself on a tennis court for the first time since her crushing US Open loss.

Osaka beamed as she posed for photos at the net of her practice court, a welcome sight following some of the mental struggles she has opened up on this year.

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Seen with an Australian Open match ball, hinting she would return to action in Melbourne early next year, she captioned the set of Instagram photos: “Kinda rusty but feels good to be back.

“I really want to say thank you everyone for all the kind messages, I really appreciate it.”

Now, Serena Williams has shared her excitement for the 24-year-old’s upcoming return to tennis.

Asked about Osaka’s comeback by TMZ Sports, the 23-time Grand Slam champion exclaimed: “Oh my goodness. It’s gonna be amazing. I can’t wait.”

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The world No 13 won her maiden Grand Slam title back in 2018 by defeating Williams in the US Open final, in a match that saw the woman often named the GOAT of tennis receive a game penalty after defending herself when umpire Carlos Ramos gave her a previous warning for coaching.

The pair have remained good friends despite their difficult first Grand Slam encounter.

The younger Williams sister herself has not been in action since Wimbledon, as she slipped on Centre Court at the start of her opening round match and was forced to retire after just six games.

Serena herself is now eyeing a comeback at January’s Australian Open, after appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and telling the host she was “definitely” planning to play the first Major of 2022.

She also opened up on the extent of the hamstring injury she picked up on the grass courts of the All England Club in June, saying: “The hamstring is better. It took a long time, it took forever, but it’s much better now.

“I went for a shot and I just heard this noise and I was like ‘oh no!’

“I felt it, but I felt like ‘okay well let me just keep trying’, but it was bad.”
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