Naomi Osaka, a Japanese professional tennis player, is getting ready to make her comeback to the court after taking a year-long break. The 26-year-old last played in September of last year before taking time off to have her first child. Now, after giving birth in July, she is preparing to return in January, possibly participating in the Australian Open, which is the first Grand Slam of the season.
To celebrate her return, let’s reminisce about another significant moment in her diverse career. Right after winning the US Open in 2020, Osaka made her debut in the SI Swimsuit issue in a spectacular way: She was featured on the cover of the 2021 edition in a stunning photo captured by photographer Yu Tsai in Malibu, Calif.
In those photos, the remarkable athlete showcased herself in a series of glamorous swimsuits under the golden West Coast sunlight. For Osaka, it felt like a dream, as she expressed during the shoot. Growing up, she had seen many incredible women grace the cover, so she understood the magnitude of the moment.
And she embraced the challenge. The former world No. 1 left her mark on the California beaches, just as she is expected to do in her return to the tennis court. Here are a few of our favorite shots from the trip.
Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.