Naomi Osaka expressed her hope on Sunday to celebrate her daughter's first birthday with a triumphant return to Wimbledon, possibly aided by insights from Novak Djokovic. The Japanese tennis icon, who boasts four Grand Slam titles and has held the top world ranking, has been absent from the All England Club since 2019. Osaka is set to face France's Diane Parry in her initial match on Monday, just a day before her daughter Shai turns one.

"She's turning one on Tuesday, so it's going to be a really exciting day," the 26-year-old shared. "It's been an incredible journey, and I feel fortunate and grateful to have a lively and joyful daughter. It's a dream come true to be here with her now." Osaka's major victories have all come on hard courts at the US Open and Australian Open. She reached the third round at Wimbledon in 2017 and 2018, falling to past champions Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber respectively. Her last appearance in 2019 ended early with a defeat in the first round by Yulia Putintseva.

To enhance her prospects at this year's Wimbledon, Osaka sought advice from the seven-time champion Djokovic. "I've attempted to play on grass and asked Novak how he manages it. I've given it a few tries but found it quite daunting. I think I might need to wait until the grass turns a bit brown," she explained. "However, he advised me that regardless of falls, he keeps getting back up and doing it. He said I need to conquer the fear of injury." Osaka, who resumed her tour career at the beginning of this year following maternity leave, is currently ranked 113th globally and needed a wildcard to compete at Wimbledon. At the recent French Open, she nearly defeated world number one Iga Swiatek, holding a match point in their second-round encounter before the Polish player secured victory. Since then, Osaka has reached the quarterfinals of the grass-court event at 's-Hertogenbosch and pushed world number eight Zheng Qinwen to three sets in the opening round in Berlin.

"It's a bit odd because I feel I've been playing very well this year but haven't made many quarterfinals," Osaka remarked. "I believe if I hadn't faced Iga, I could have gone far in Paris. I just need a bit of luck." She continued, "I lost in the first round in Berlin, but I learned a lot. I'm feeling quite positive about my game. People say I have the style suited for grass."