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Naomi Osaka made a winning return to tennis as she beat Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch 6-3 7-6 in the first round of the Brisbane International.
The former world number one has not played since withdrawing from the Pan Pacific Trophy with a knee injury in September 2021. She became a mother for the first time in July.
Four-time grand slam champion Osaka returned to the court in style, breaking Korpatsch to love in the first game and did not face a break point as she clinched the first set in 39 minutes.
Osaka looked set for a routine victory when she broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set, but Korpatsch fought back to take it into a tie break – Osaka winning 11-9 on her third match point.
“The last couple of years that I played before I had my daughter, I didn’t return as much love as I was given,” Osaka said on court after the match. “I feel like that’s what I want to do in this chapter.
“I just really appreciate people coming out and knowing me and cheering for me because I feel like there was a time I was just a little kid trying to watch my role models play.
“So it feels really surreal sometimes to be playing on these courts.”
The former US Open and Australian Open will meet Karolina Pliskova, another former world number one and a three-time champion in Brisbane, in the second round.
Meanwhile, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has announced she is pregnant with her first child.
The 33-year-old Czech, who triumphed at the All England Club in 2011 and 2014, married her coach Jiri Vanek in July.
“On the first day of 2024 I wanted to wish you a happy new year and share the exciting news that Jiri and I will be welcoming a baby into our family this summer,” she posted on Instagram.