Even if Naomi Osaka's return to tennis means more competition for Serena Williams ... the G.O.A.T. tells TMZ Sports she's still stoked for the 24-year-old's comeback!!!
"Oh my goodness," the tennis legend said out in Beverly Hills. "It's gonna be amazing. I can't wait."
Osaka has been away from the game for months -- dealing with mental health issues -- but she just recently returned to the practice court and was all smiles while out there.
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Osaka made it appear like a return to competition was close ... 'cause she showed a zoomed-in shot of a tennis ball that featured the Australian Open's logo on it (which would mean she'd be back by January).
Even if that means Serena will have to beat Naomi for a title (Osaka has beaten Serena 3 out of the 5 times they've played) ... it ain't hard to see she's glad the competition is back -- and healthy.