In July 2023, the 26-year-old tennis pro gave birth to her first child with rapper Cordae. In a new interview with Glamour, where Osaka poses with her daughter for the first time, the athlete opens up about her challenges postpartum and how she’s looking forward to moving forward with her career as a working mother.
Osaka tells the outlet that childbirth left her feeling like she can “do anything and nothing will bother me. “I feel so strong. People talk about childbirth, but it’s different once you experience it,” she explains. “I just feel like I can do anything, and nothing will bother me, and the pain tolerance has definitely increased a lot from that. I just don’t really care about other people’s opinions anymore.”
She admits that she was nervous about how her sponsors would react when she revealed her pregnancy.
“I was extremely nervous. I felt like I was stepping into the unknown, and I also felt like the last few years of my career were kind of sporadic too,” Osaka shares about her apprehensions about announcing her pregnancy. “So I didn’t even know if my sponsors wanted to take up the energy to go through this with me. But I’m really happy that I chose people around me that understand me and we’re going through this adventure together. I guess the biggest elephant in the room is Nike, but they’ve been so extremely helpful.”
Now, the tennis champion is gearing up to play the Australian Open for the first time since 2022. Having won in 2019 and 2021, the pressure is on for her to make her return a standout moment. But Osaka isn’t letting any outside expectations psych her out.
“It’s weird because I’ve lived most of my life, I guess, listening to my parents or always feeling the pressure of wanting to make them proud or make other people proud,” she muses. “And I don’t know when it happened, but I just started wanting to do things for myself. It’s a growing-up moment. Even from last year to this year, I feel like a completely different person. Just finding my voice and knowing what I want to stand for, and knowing the things that are important to me is something that I’ve had to learn throughout the years.”
Having Shai has given Osaka the motivation to make every moment away from her daughter worth it. “It seems so far apart from being a mom when I walk on the court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was three, so that’s something that is as normal as breathing for me. But at the same time: I often worry about if I’m a good mom, but at the end of the day, I realize Shai is my daughter. There’s nothing I could do, or I want to do that’s going to change that, and I just want to be a good role model for her, and I want her to be proud of me,” she tells Glamour.
While Osaka hasn’t shared too much about her daughter on social media, she has been candid about her desire to return to the courts since giving birth. In September, the athlete told ET that being a spectator at last year’s U.S. Open in New York gave her the itch to make her return in 2024 at the Australian Open.
“Honestly I’ve been athletic or been playing sports since I was three, so it’s like a part of my life,” she told ET about her intense workouts.
“I went to the [U.S.] Open earlier today and it just brought me so much inspiration,” she added. “So I’m very excited. It’s made me a lot more grateful. Just a lot of little things I took for granted, now I’m kind of looking at it and since I can’t play competitively right now, it’s really making me itch to come back.”
Fans can see Osaka make her return to the Australian Open when the 15-day tournament begins on a Sunday, Jan. 14.