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At the Australian Open, Sports Flirts With Normalcy

MELBOURNE, Australia — “It’s so good to see people.”

This was Naomi Osaka, the three-time Grand Slam champion, moments after her first-round win Monday afternoon at the Australian Open. She stood at a microphone on the court at Rod Laver Arena and peered up at a crowd that seemed, if not normal, then something like it.

That was how it was all across the grounds of Melbourne Park on Monday, where international sports returned, however temporarily, to something like it was before most people knew the difference between a coronavirus and the seasonal flu or used the phrase “social distancing” every third sentence.