Naomi Osaka is pregnant and will not play tennis in 2023

Naomi OsakaImage: Getty Images

For those who had questions about why Naomi Osaka dropped out of the Australian Open, or whether being a professional tennis player is still important to her, you just got your answer.

Osaka tweeted a statement on Wednesday announcing that she would be retiring from tennis for the entire 2023 season. In the statement, she mentioned that the past few years have been challenging but she is learning from it and plans to compete again at the Australian Open in 2024.

Also, she’s pregnant.

When it was announced on Saturday that she would not play in the first tennis major of the 2023 season, the speculation machine began to smoke with all the questions asked about Osaka. Are you still interested in tennis? Is she only interested in fame? What exactly are their mental health issues? Can she ever return to her status as the best player in the world?

I could use this moment to protest wild speculation about what’s going on in the lives of athletes and other celebrities. The decisions they make are none of our business, unless they end up in jail for harming another person.

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Naomi Osaka is pregnant and will not play tennis in 2023

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But we all know that’s not realistic. While Osaka didn’t owe us an explanation as to why she chose not to play, she’s famous. She is far more than just a professional tennis player. Osaka is one of the most famous athletes in the whole world. A real A-list star. Of course, we’ll be curious as to why she’s not playing.

Everything she says and does can and will be used against her in a court of law. She was the highest paid female athlete in the world in 2022 despite having a tough season. Osaka lost early on at the Australian Open, French Open and US Open. She didn’t even play at Wimbledon because of an Achilles injury.

All of her struggles on the pitch in 2022 caused people to let their imagination run wild as to why she decided not to compete in the first major tournament of the season. All of this comes after a year in which she revealed she was struggling with some mental health issues that led to her withdrawal from the 2021 French Open. Many questioned how much interest she still has in playing tennis, and some went too far in the harshness of her criticism.

In an ideal world, people would have taken the news that Osaka wasn’t playing at face value. They would have expressed disappointment that another star player would be leaving the first major of the season – Venus Williams and Carlos Alcaraz are also not playing – and left it at that. If they had any questions, they could have waited a few days and then received an honest answer from Osaka, clearly explaining why she won’t be playing.

Unfortunately, sports don’t work that way. The more famous an athlete is, the more scrutiny the athlete’s every move gets, and the hot takes come quickly. The social media accounts—both real and bots—get rolling right away. Then come the blog posts, debate shows, and then the columns.

The speculative machine cannot be stopped once it gets going. Give it a star and some news that answers who, what and where, but no how and why, and the machine can run all day. It’s not powered by electricity, it’s powered by curiosity.

It would have been nice if we let Osaka tell us why she wasn’t playing in the first major of the tennis season in her free time. In polite society, that would actually be the right approach.

But that is not a matter of course. So let’s just try not to be mean.