While Naomi Osaka wasn’t harsh on herself about losing in the first round of the Australian Open, acknowledging that she gave birth just six months ago, tennis icon Martina Navratilova held higher expectations for the new mom’s level of play on tour.
“Tennis-wise it’s maybe a B+, but overall it’s C, because she couldn’t get to the ball that she wants to hit because she’s not in shape,” Navratilova commented on Tennis Channel, evaluating Osaka’s performance in her first-round loss to Caroline Garcia.
Navratilova is even surprised that Osaka resumed her career without getting properly fit for the level the professional competition requires, especially for a Grand Slam: “She was stretched out way too much and the fact that she never had a break point tell you everything you need to know about that match.”
After giving birth to her first child in July, the 26-year-old Osaka resumed her career at the 2024 Brisbane International, securing a victory against Tamara Korpatsch but subsequently facing defeat against Karolina Pliskova. Coming to the Australian Open as a two-time tournament champion, she was eliminated by Garcia in straight sets.
Navratilova showed little understanding for Osaka’s new role as a mother and expressed that she should have put more effort into her form if she wanted to return to competition, pointing out Elina Svitolina as a good example of a hard-working WTA mom:
“Svitolina did too and she looked a lot better right off the bat, so it’s something you can control, I mean the fitness, as long as you don’t have injuries, there’s no reason not to get in better shape. Then she can win a lot more matches.”