Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, has withdrawn from the Australian Open, the newest turn in an increasingly enigmatic profession.
The Australian Open announced Osaka’s withdrawal on Sunday in Melbourne. Dayana Yastremska will now move into the major draw of the tournament, which starts Jan. 15.
Osaka, who won the Australian Open in 2019 and 2021, has not played a tournament since September, when she withdrew from a match in Japan with abdominal pain.
Once seemingly destined to compete for the most important championships in tennis for the following decade, Osaka has struggled to regain her form since she took two lengthy breaks from competition in 2021.
The primary break got here after her withdrawal from that season’s French Open, where she went public together with her longtime struggles with depression. She returned for the Olympic Games in midsummer, but after a disappointing early-round loss on the U.S. Open, she announced an indefinite break.
Osaka returned to the tour compete in Australia last January, and he or she appeared to be well down the road back when she reached the ultimate of the Miami Open in April. She said that she desired to be No. 1 again. But an Achilles’ tendon injury cut short her clay-court season and likewise prevented her from playing in Wimbledon.
Osaka then won only one match throughout the summer hardcourt swing in North America, a disappointing result because Osaka was once considered the world’s premier hardcourt player. The Australian Open, the 12 months’s first Grand Slam, is played on hardcourts as well.
Despite her limited play and a rating that sunk to eighty fifth on the planet last February, Osaka stays considered one of the very best earning athletes on the planet, with endorsement deals which have pushed her annual income to greater than $50 million, based on Forbes.
And she or he stays very busy away from the court. Osaka launched a representation agency in May to take further control of her mounting business portfolio. Osaka and her longtime agent, Stuart Duguid, left IMG, the sports and entertainment conglomerate, to start Evolve. Nick Kyrgios, an Australian tennis star, has since joined the agency as well.
On the time, Duguid said that Osaka’s major priority remained winning tennis matches and tournaments but that launching Evolve allowed her to interact her interests in culture and business.
“She’s not someone who likes to play video games and binge Netflix all day,” said Duguid, who has worked closely with Osaka since she was an adolescent.
Duguid predicted that Osaka’s business portfolio could grow to $150 million annually in the approaching years through investments and ventures resembling Kinlò, a skincare products company focused on individuals with darker skin tones.
In December, Osaka released a children’s book, “The Way Champs Play.” She wrote that she hoped the book “inspires kids to chase their dreams and encourages them to imagine they will do anything they put their minds to.”