Naomi Osaka is coming back to where her title-winning ways started. The 2018 BNP Paribas Open champion has been granted a wildcard for the 2022 edition starting March 9 in Indian Wells.
Osaka won her maiden WTA singles title in Indian Wells as a 20-year-old, defeating Top 10 player Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals, then-World No.1 Simona Halep in the semifinals and Daria Kasatkina in the final.
Ranked World No.44 at the time, Osaka halved that number with the championship, surging to a new career-high of No.22 after the event.
That title kickstarted Osaka's rise to the top, with her second title coming later in 2018 at the US Open, for her first Grand Slam title. Osaka has racked up five more WTA singles titles, including three more Grand Slam crowns and 25 weeks at World No.1 since.
2018 champion ➡️🌴@naomiosaka is awarded a wild card and returns to #TennisParadise March 7-20🔥 pic.twitter.com/cz01Hh14Qi— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) February 17, 2022
Osaka's presence enhances an already loaded field for the WTA 1000 event. All of the Top 40 players are on the entry list, led by recent Australian Open champion and World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, who will return to the desert for the first time since 2019 after missing last year's edition.
Reigning champion Paula Badosa is also entered to mount a title defense. World No.5 Badosa triumphed in a third-set tiebreak to defeat two-time Indian Wells champion Victoria Azarenka in last year's final, which took place in October.