• Home
  • Tennis
  • Naomi Osaka Claims First Victory At Wimbledon In Six Years

Naomi Osaka claims first victory at Wimbledon in six years

Naomi Osaka is through to the second round at Wimbledon where the women's draw was blown wide open after a string of high-profile withdrawals.

Aryna Sabalenka and compatriot Victoria Azarenka pulled out within the space of a few hours, which followed Emma Raducanu's scheduled round one opponent Ekaterina Alexandrova being forced to withdraw due to illness.

Raducanu eased through against lucky loser Renata Zarazua either side of fellow US Open champions Osaka and Coco Gauff laying down markers with solid first-round victories to serve notice to the rest of the field.

France's Varvara Gracheva had clinched the opening win at this year's Championships with a 6-3 6-1 success over Lesia Tsurenko at 12.11pm and she was quickly joined in round two by ninth seed Maria Sakkari and Zhu Lin.

Not long after those triumphs Sabalenka, one of the favourites to win the crown, revealed she had to withdraw due to an ongoing shoulder problem called teres major, which primarily affects her serve.

Double Australian Open winner Sabalenka posted on Instagram: "Heartbroken to have to tell you all that I won't be able to play the Championships this year.

"I tried everything to get myself ready but unfortunately my shoulder is not cooperating. I pushed myself to the limit in practice today to try my best, but my team explained that playing would only make things much worse.

"This tournament means so much to me and I promise I'll be back stronger than ever next year."

Azarenka, a two-time semi-finalist at Wimbledon, followed due to her own shoulder injury, which could open the door for Osaka, who may have faced the Belarusian in round three.

Osaka had not won at the All England Club since 2018, with the last six years bringing a first-round defeat alongside several absentees due to a mixture of injury and mental health struggles, while this time last year she was about to give birth to daughter Shai.

Fast forward 12 months and Osaka delighted a packed Court Two crowd with a gutsy 6-1 1-6 6-4 triumph over Diane Parry to mark Shai's first birthday on Tuesday in style.

"Before my match I was looking at my photo album. Like, they have that feature ‘this time last year', I was looking at photos of myself in the hospital. It's really cool to be here now," Osaka said.

"(Shai) actually had a really big celebration a week or so ago. That's one of the things that I didn't want to miss. That's kind of why I didn't play Eastbourne, because I didn't want to miss my daughter's first birthday party.

"Then, yeah, she's going to have, like, a cake and stuff here, but not a crazy, big event."

Osaka, who has never made it past the third round at Wimbledon, will face 19th seed Emma Navarro on Wednesday and feels her game is in strong shape three years on from her last grand-slam title at the Australian Open.

She added: "I know I would need the results to back it up, but I think certain aspects of my game are better. I guess I just need to put the pieces together."

World number two Coco Gauff is a potential fourth-round opponent for Osaka and she banished the memories of her early exit in 2023 with a rapid 6-1 6-2 triumph over fellow American Caroline Dolehide on Centre Court.

Seventh seed Jasmine Paoline and Madison Keys, seeded 12th, also eased into round two with straight-set wins.

They were joined in the next round by Eastbourne champion Daria Kasatkina and Bianca Andreescu, but eighth seed Zheng Qinwen was a shock casualty to qualifier Lulu Sun while 2021 runner-up Karolina Pliskova crashed out.

Mirra Andreeva, fresh from a run to the last-four at Roland Garros, lost to fellow teenager Brenda Fruhvirtova, but younger sister Erika Andreeva - a lucky loser after Sabalenka's withdrawal - booked a space in round two with victory over Emina Bektas.

Sorana Cirstea, seeded 29th, exited after a three-set defeat to British number nine Sonay Kartal, who followed compatriots Raducanu and Lily Miyazaki into the next round.

More Articles