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New mom Naomi Osaka says she's returning to Wimbledon 'an incredibly different person'

Naomi Osaka feels like a different player and person on her return to Wimbledon and is looking forward to sharing the experience with her baby daughter.

The Japanese player has not appeared at the All England Club for five years having struggled with her mental health and injury before giving birth to Shai last July.

Osaka has never been past the third round of Wimbledon but has returned to the sport with a renewed sense of commitment and stayed in Europe after the French Open to maximise her preparation time.

"I think I'm probably an incredibly different person and player," she said. "I think as a player I know more about myself, hopefully I have a better serve, and as a person I also think I know more about myself and I'm probably a lot more open to different experiences and just seeing things in general."

Becoming a mother has been central to her change in mindset and Osaka is looking forward to celebrating Shai's first birthday in London on Tuesday.

"It's been a journey but I've also been really lucky and blessed because I'm able to bring someone that also helps me take care of Shai," she said.

"She's also a relatively happy girl all the time. She just has a lot of energy and I have to play with her a lot to tire her out so sometimes it's a little tiring to go from practice to running around with her but I wouldn't say that's anything I would complain about.

"It's a bit of a dream to be here with her now. She turns one on Tuesday so that's going to be a really exciting day."

Osaka is still ranked outside the top 100 and has reached only two quarter-finals since her comeback but she gave a reminder of the talent that carried her to four slam titles by pushing Iga Swiatek all the way in a brilliant second-round match at the French Open.

"I feel like my level is really good, I'm just not getting to the quarters of every tournament," said the 26-year-old.

"It's a little unfortunate, I feel like I just need a little bit of luck. I feel like if I didn't play Iga in the second round, I could have potentially gotten really far in the French. I'm kind of banking on a little bit of luck in my tournaments and hopefully I'll get to where I want to be."

Osaka opens her campaign on Monday against France's Diane Parry, while opening the Centre Court schedule on Tuesday will be defending champion Marketa Vondrousova.

The Czech became one of the most surprising champions in Wimbledon history when she defeated Ons Jabeur 12 months ago.

"I cannot wait to be back on Centre Court," said Vondrousova, who will take on Spain's Jessica Bouzas Maneiro in round one.

"I'm thinking about it. I'm not stressed yet, but I think it's going to come tomorrow when I see the tournament starting and everything. I practised there on Friday. I got the feel of it."

Vondrousova had a pre-tournament scare when she was forced to retire during a match at the grass-court event in Berlin last week after slipping and hurting her hip.

But the 25-year-old declared herself fully fit and is hoping she can produce another strong showing on the grand slam stage.

"I played good tennis at the US Open," she said. "I played quarters. This year in Paris, too. I feel like you just have to prepare for the stress and for the pressure.

"Now people are watching you more, expect you to play semis or finals in every tournament. I don't think that's possible. I'm going to try to take it match by match and try to enjoy the game."

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