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Osaka to play Billie Jean King Cup for first time since 2020

Naomi Osaka will play the Billie Jean King Cup for the first time in four years when Japan face Kazakhstan in a qualifier in Tokyo next month, the team said Friday.

The four-time Grand Slam winner and former world number one is making her return to tennis this season after giving birth, and last played at the tournament in 2020.

The 26-year-old has played at five tournaments since making her comeback, and lost to Belgium’s Elise Mertens in the last 32 at the Indian Wells Masters earlier this week.

She is currently ranked 287 in the world after taking a 15-month break from the tour for maternity leave.

It will be Osaka’s first appearance in Tokyo since she withdrew from the Pan Pacific Open in September 2022 before her second-round match.

Japan will face Kazakhstan on April 12 and 13 at Tokyo’s Ariake Coliseum, where Osaka reached the third round of the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

The winners will advance to November’s finals in Spain.

“She said that she wants to play, so I’m really happy,” local media quoted Japan captain Ai Sugiyama as saying.

Osaka has previously said that she wants to play at this summer’s Paris Olympics.

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