Naomi Osaka is making her comeback to tennis months after giving birth. The 26-year-old opened up about her new role as a mother and what other women should know about this new responsibility.

“I don’t think people know how hard pregnancy is; no one really talks about it as much,” she told InStyle in a digital cover story. “Going into it, you kind of think, ‘Oh, it’s this beautiful journey,’ but it’s kind of rough.”

Osaka shared that her now 5-month-old daughter Shai had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Today, she is healthy.

“There was a huge adjustment period. It was life-changing in a day. From the moment that you come back home from the hospital, everything’s different,” she added, also calling the experience “the worst pain of my life.” 

“I know that if I get through this, then everything else will feel very easy,” Osaka said.

The tennis player has been training for a comeback to compete in 2024. Being a mother gave her a new perspective on her career – it’s only one of the many chapters of her life.

“I’ve stepped away from tennis before, but this time, it was the longest duration of my life. And I think it kind of gave me a perspective like, ‘Hey, you’re not going to play tennis forever. And you kind of have to cherish the years that you can play,'” she said.

Osaka wants her daughter to know the importance of tennis in her life.

“I do want to be a good role model for Shai, and I want her to see that this was an important chapter in my life,” she added.

The 26-year-old tennis player noted the privilege she had to return to her career on her terms.

“So many American parents don’t have that choice, but we all deserve it,” she said. “It has definitely motivated me to speak up about the lack of paid leave and to advocate for new moms in this country.”