Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, or Caroline Wozniacki: Which mom will have best 2024

Recently, Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka, and Angelique Kerber have made their much-awaited returns to the WTA Tour.
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At the 2009 US Open, Kim Clijsters shocked the field by winning the tournament in just her third tournament after a two-year absence from the sport. Clijsters left the tour to become a mother, and fans were delighted at the sight of her holding the trophy and celebrating with her daughter. At the time, it was almost unheard of for a female player to return to the tour after becoming a parent. However, it has become more commonplace in the last decade.

In the last few years, several mothers have managed great success on the WTA Tour. Serena Williams reached four major finals and Victoria Azarenka reached one as well. Elina Svitolina upset Iga Swiatek at last year's Wimbledon to reach the semifinals.

The 2024 Australian Open will see former champions and mothers Naomi Osaka, Caroline Wozniacki, and Angelique Kerber compete at the major for the first time in their respective comebacks. Wozniacki has played more matches of the three in the last 12 months, and she is starting to look at home again on her favored hard courts.

Caroline Wozniacki had a sensational US Open performance last year. She defeated Petra Kvitova en route to the 4th round, where she narrowly lost to eventual champion Coco Gauff. Wozniacki opened her 2024 campaign with a loss to Elina Svitolina. Wozniacki looks to be in form and is starting to add more offense to her rock-solid defense.

Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, or Caroline Wozniacki could have huge 2024s

Angelique Kerber began her comeback at the 2024 United Cup. Kerber lost both singles matches but showed glimpses of the play that has won her three majors. Against Caroline Garcia, Kerber won the first set without committing one unforced error. Kerber ultimately lost the match in three sets, but it was a promising performance against a top-20 player.

Naomi Osaka was victorious in her opening match of the Brisbane International. Osaka showed signs of nerves in trying to serve out the match in the second set, but she was able to get by in straight sets. It will take some time for Osaka to cut back on her unforced errors but she appeared fit and still hits the ball as hard and clean as anyone on tour.

Wozniacki, Kerber, and Osaka are all previous Australian Open winners and prefer hard courts over the other surfaces. I think all three will finish the year inside the top 50. However, I think Naomi Osaka will have the most successful year.

To start, Osaka is still only 26 years old, whereas Kerber and Wozniacki are in their 30s. Age has become less of a factor in recent years as player longevity has substantially increased; however, it is still a factor. More importantly, Osaka's game relies less on fitness and consistency than Kerber's and Wozniacki's.

When Kerber and Wozniacki were at their best, their games were built around their supreme defense and stamina. Osaka's game, on the other hand, revolves around power and first strikes. I believe Kerber and Wozniacki can return to the upper echelon of the game, but it will take quite a number of tournaments for their fitness to return to the necessary level. I think Osaka is a legitimate contender for the year's first major.

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