Naomi Osaka was awarded a wild card to play in next month’s BNP Paribas Open, four years after she was the tournament’s women’s singles champion, organizers announced Thursday.
Osaka needed the wild card to play in the main draw without having to qualify because of her ranking. Osaka was 82nd in the Women’s Tennis Association singles rankings released Monday, mainly because of her absences from tournaments following her withdrawal from the French Open in May, citing mental health issues.
“To return to Indian Wells Tennis Garden, the place I won my first big event, it’s special,” Osaka said. “It was special in 2018 and will be special again this March.”
Osaka has not played since losing to American Amanda Anisimova in the third round of the Australian Open Jan. 21, her second tournament since losing in the third round of the U.S. Open to Canadian Leylah Fernandez Sept. 3.