Serena Williams’ ex-coach in Naomi Osaka prediction as tennis star comeback set

Novak Djokovic jokes about his age at the Australian Open

Serena Williams’ ex-coach has tipped Naomi Osaka to make a triumphant return to tennis as she prepares to make her comeback at the Australian Open in 2024. The Japanese superstar has been out of action throughout the 2023 season after announcing her pregnancy.

The four-time Grand Slams victor last played on the tour back in September 2022 but has stepped up her efforts in a bid to return to action in Melbourne. The 26-year-old previously won the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Australian Open, with the latter championship representing her last to date.

Following her success at Melbourne Park two years ago, she finished her season early as she cited her struggles with mental health issues also going on to miss Wimbledon that year. She eventually returned to tennis at the Cincinnati Open before playing the 2022 season.

However, she announced that she would be missing the Australian Open in 2023 as she was expecting her first child with rapper Cordae. Eventually, the former world number one gave birth to her daughter Shai in July, prompting speculation that she would return to action in 2024.

Now, with Osaka set to first take part in the Brisbane International between December 31 and January 7, ‘super-coach’ Patrick Mouratoglou has predicted that she will hit the ground running. Heralding her return, Simona Halep’s current coach said: “It’s the best news for women’s tennis.

“Now you have Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka – not that there are no others because of course there are many others, but those two are super-exciting. They are superstars, so they’re great for the WTA. The WTA needs superstars.

“We had so many great years with Serena, Venus (Williams) and Maria Sharapova, who are three really huge stars,” he explained. “It draws a lot of attention to women’s tennis when you have players like that. So I’m very excited that Naomi comes back. She’s great.”

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Mouratoglou, who previously coached Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune, provided some insight into what exactly makes Osaka such a standout talent. Despite her absences during the past couple of years, he predicts that she can still be as exciting a watch as ever for spectators in Australia. 

He said: “She has such a huge game, huge shots. Having the mindset, the will and the shots, she can really do some damage. She will be ready for the Australian Open. She will just lack matches.

“We’ll know quite fast if she’s able to be competitive immediately or if she will need a bit more time to become competitive. But I feel she will be competitive straight away.”

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