Ambitious Osaka will target Olympic medal if 'allowed' to play at Paris Games

The four-time Grand Slam champion says the quadrennial showpiece is a 'celebration of sport'

By AFP

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Japan’s Naomi Osakalit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021 - AFP File
Japan’s Naomi Osakalit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021 - AFP File

Published: Sat 13 Apr 2024, 6:13 PM

Last updated: Sat 13 Apr 2024, 6:14 PM

Former world number one Naomi Osaka said Saturday that she "would love to play" at this year's Paris Olympics if she is granted a spot by tennis chiefs.

The four-time Grand Slam champion may need to go through an appeals process to claim a place after failing to make a mandatory two appearances for Japan in the Billie Jean King Cup during the current Olympic cycle.


Osaka lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Covid-delayed Tokyo Games in 2021, where she went on to make the third round.

She has since become a mother, returning to tennis late last year after a 15-month maternity break.


She told reporters in Tokyo after helping Japan qualify for the BJK Cup finals that she will play in Paris "if they let me".

"Growing up watching the Olympics on TV, I felt that it was a celebration of sport," she said.

"I thought it brought everyone together and just to be able to be an athlete there and interact with other athletes is one of the funnest things that I've ever done."

The 26-year-old said she "would hope that I get to play" at the Games.

"And if I do play, I have high ambitions of myself and I hope that I can do really well and get a medal," she said.

Osaka's world ranking has risen from 831 to 193 since she began her comeback, although she has not gone beyond the quarter-finals in six tournaments.

She said she intends to play "a full clay court season and probably a full grass court season" over the coming months.

"I would hope that I do really well on one of the clay court tournaments and also grass," she said.

"Honestly, I feel like I've improved every match so I think that is possible for me."

Osaka made only one appearance for Japan as they beat Kazakhstan 3-1 to qualify for the BJK Cup finals for the first time.

She beat Yulia Putintseva 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), hitting 15 aces.

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