Naomi Osaka Speaks Out on Difficulty of Parenthood, Need for Federal Paid Leave

The new mom is returning to the court with the help of her support system—and advocating for the same level of parental support nationwide.
Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka.

Naomi Osaka’s hiatus from professional tennis will come to an end with the first round of the Australian Open, taking place Jan. 14 through 16. But while the Japanese pro has been on a leave from the game since the fall of 2022, her time off has been far from restful.

The 26-year-old announced last January that she was pregnant and would be taking a leave during the 2023 season to give birth and spend time with her newborn. By her own admission, “Being a parent is hard,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Jan. 10. “As a professional athlete I am no stranger to hard work or early mornings, but the last 6 months as a new mom has given me a whole new appreciation and understanding of what parents do every single day.”

Her impending return to professional tennis has only further impressed on her the importance of supporting parents and mothers, in particular, who have been “historically told that babies will be a barrier to personal goals - that they will stop you from achieving your dreams,” she explained.

“Shai is my ultimate motivator; she makes me want to achieve greatness,” she said. “I’m proud of myself for continuing to chase my dreams while also being a mom. And I recognize that I’m fortunate to have the support to return to work this month on my own terms, in my own time.”

While grateful, Osaka recognizes that not all mothers and parents have the option to do both. So, “I’m using my platform and my voice to join @Bobbie, the company supporting my feeding journey with Shai, to speak up about the lack of federal paid leave and advocate for new moms in this country,” she wrote. “84% of Americans support paid leave, and yet 73% of parents don’t have it.”

With a support system surrounding her, Osaka will return to the court within the week. And with her latest post, she hopes to achieve the same flexibility for other parents nationwide.

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Martha Zaytoun


Martha Zaytoun is a Lifestyle & Trending News writer for SI Swimsuit. Before joining the team, Martha worked on the editorial board of the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine and on the editorial team at Chapel Hill, Durham and Chatham Magazines in North Carolina. When not working, Martha loves to watercolor and oil paint, run or water ski. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a huge Fighting Irish fan.