In a feature interview with In Style Magazine, former No.1 Naomi Osaka opened up about the health complications and anxiety she experienced during her pregnancy. Osaka gave birth to her first daughter Shai in July and is set to return to competition next month at the Brisbane International.

Osaka revealed she tested positive for Group B streptococcus during her pregnancy, a bacterial infection that can lead to serious health problems, including stillbirth, in newborn babies. As her worry compounded, she spoke to 11-time Olympic medalist Allyson Felix, who experienced preeclampsia during the premature delivery of her daughter, Camryn. Felix has become a vocal advocate of maternal health. Black women have the highest maternal mortality rate in America.

When Osaka’s water broke, she headed to the hospital under a cloud of concern. She reveals that after 12 hours in labor, she was only dilated one centimeter and attempts to induce labor failed.

“I do remember feeling in that moment, This is the worst pain of my life,” Osaka says in In Style. “And I know that if I get through this, then everything else will feel very easy.”

Osaka would later learn that Shai was born with a nuchal chord, with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. “Shai” means “gift” in Hebrew.

Osaka touches touches on several topics in the wide-ranging feature. She discusses how she has approached her tennis differently after her pregnancy, the importance of her 15-month break from the sport, and how she’s handled her first months of motherhood.

Read the full feature interview in In Style here.


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