Serena Williams returns to competitive tennis with Wimbledon wildcard

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Serena Williams will return to Grand Slam tennis for the first time in a year at Wimbledon later this month after being handed a singles wildcard entry by the All England Club on Tuesday.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, who has not played since suffering an injury during her first-round match at Wimbledon 12 months ago, has plummeted to 1,208 in the world rankings.

Earlier Tuesday, Williams had indicated she would be at Wimbledon, which begins on June 27, when she posted an image of her white trainers on grass on Instagram along with the caption: “SW and SW19. It’s a date. 2022, see you there.”

The 40-year-old will make her return to competitive tennis next week at the Eastbourne International, where she has been given a wildcard into the doubles with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

“I am excited to return to the Rothesay International Eastbourne in England and to be back on the grass – a surface that has been so good to me throughout my career,” said Williams.

“Eastbourne has a unique charm that you don’t see anywhere else on tour and I’m looking forward to playing in front of the fans again.”

Williams won the last of her seven Wimbledon singles titles in 2016 but reached the final in 2018 and 2019 after returning from having a baby.

She made a tearful exit last year after retiring during the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a leg injury and doubts had been growing about whether she would return to the sport.

Her long-time coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, revealed in April that he had taken on a new role with Simona Halep.

Wimbledon is widely considered Williams’s best chance of claiming a 24th Grand Slam singles crown to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.

Her last Grand Slam title came at the Australian Open in 2017.

Wimbledon board member Tim Henman, who reached four semi-finals at the tournament, said: “It is a good selection on the women’s side.

“Serena requested (a wildcard) actually a couple of weeks ago and she is going to play down at Eastbourne. Hopefully she will get a good chance of getting some grass court preparation in.”

British players dominated the rest of the wildcard list, with players including Katie Boulter and Liam Broady given spots in the singles main draws.

Joining them will be three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who has returned from a long-term foot injury this season, and Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven, who beat Daniil Medvedev in the final of the s’Hertogenbosch grass court tournament on Sunday.

(AFP)

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