• Kyodo

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Former world No. 4 Kimiko Date has been invited to compete at the Japan Women’s Open next month, the Japan Tennis Association said Wednesday.

The 46-year-old Date, a sponsors’ invite for the Sept. 11-17 event at Tokyo’s Ariake Tennis Forest Park, made her competitive comeback in May after being out for 16 months after two knee operations.

Date, who initially retired in 1996 but returned to competition in 2008 at age 37, had arthroscopic surgery in February last year but the meniscus was found to be badly worn out.

She went under the knife again on April 21 after she was told she needed another operation to get back to the court.

The Kyoto native was the first female Japanese player to break into the top 10 of the world tennis rankings in 1994 and achieved her career-high ranking of fourth the following year.

She captured the Japan Open, a joint men’s and women’s tournament up to 2008, four times and had reached the semifinals in three of the four Grand Slam events prior to her initial retirement in November 1996.

Also entered in this year’s Japan Women’s Open for the host nation are world No. 48 Naomi Osaka, Nao Hibino, Risa Ozaki and Misaki Doi.

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