Tennis: Osaka to make return at Australian Open warm-up tournament

© Kyodo News

Defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka will make her anticipated return to the court next month at a warm-up tournament for the season-opening Grand Slam in Melbourne, organizers said Friday.

The WTA lead-in event will start on Jan. 4 at Melbourne Park before the Australian Open kicks off at the same venue from Jan. 17.

Osaka, who also won the Australian Open in 2019, resumed training last month, ending a self-imposed break from tennis.

After making headlines for skipping a scheduled press conference at the French Open in May, Osaka revealed her struggle with depression and later withdrew from Wimbledon.

The four-time Grand Slam champion represented Japan at the Tokyo Games, where she lit the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony in late July, losing in a third-round upset.

Following another third-round exit from the U.S. Open in September, she announced an indefinite break from competition.

Japan's Kei Nishikori will compete in the men's lead-in tournament in Melbourne ahead of the Open.