Naomi Osaka gave fans reason to hope that the former world No. 1 will be back on court to defend her Australian Open title in 2022, sharing her first foray onto the tennis court since her US Open exit in September.

“Kinda rusty but feels good to be back,” Osaka wrote on Instagram.

A four-time Grand Slam champion, the 24-year-old endured an up-and-down 2021 season that began brightly when she won a second major in Melbourne but quickly devolved into uncertainty and inconsistency, culminating in a withdrawal from Roland Garros that stemmed from a decision not to attend mandatory post-match press conferences.

Though she returned to play her home Olympics in Tokyo, a third-round US Open exit to eventual Leylah Fernandez led Osaka to declare an indefinite hiatus from the sport.


“I feel like for me recently, when I win I don't feel happy,” she admitted through tears. “I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad. I don't think that's normal.

“Basically,” she continued, “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.”

Osaka withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open in California, where she owns a home, and entered no further events in 2021, ruling her out of the WTA Finals in Guadalajara.

Paired with images of herself and her Kinlo skincare line, Osaka thanked fans for their supportive messages on social media.