The Guardian: LONDON, England, by Tumaini Carayol at Queen’s Club – Serena Williams will make her long-awaited return to the game from a one‑year layoff after she was granted a wildcard into the Wimbledon singles draw.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, she announced her return by including a picture of her trainers and ankle braces on grass with her tennis bag in the background. Williams captioned the photo: “SW and SW19. It’s a date. 2022, see you there.”
The All England Club later confirmed Williams’s return to individual competition by announcing her as a wildcard recipient. The wildcard announcements were supposed to be made on Wednesdaytoday but the fanfare around Williams’s possible presence led to an earlier reveal. Wimbledon begins on June 27.
In her post, Williams additionally tagged the Eastbourne international, the pre-Wimbledon WTA event that begins next week. She will take her first steps back on to the match court when she competes in the doubles draw with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, the singles world No 4.
“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. 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 said in a statement.
Williams has not competed since a Wimbledon first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich last year, when she slipped on the wet grass and was forced to retire early in the first set with a left leg injury. In the meantime, her ranking has fallen to 1,208.
Since she did not apply for a protected ranking before Wimbledon, she did not appear on the entry list and she required a wildcard to enter the event. With 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams holds the Open era grand slam record. At Wimbledon, she has won seven singles titles, six women’s doubles titles alongside her sister, Venus, and also the mixed doubles title in 1998.
After winning her 23rd grand slam title while pregnant with her daughter, Olympia, in Australia in 2017, Williams returned from maternity leave in 2018. While she has reached four grand slam finals since then, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, she was unable to win a set in those finals. She turns 41 on 26 September.
Despite not competing over the past year, Williams has remained in the public eye. She was most a producer along with her sisters, Venus and Isha, for the Oscar-nominated film King Richard.
As Williams failed to appear on entry lists throughout the season, there was ample uncertainty about whether she would ever return to the sport. Such discussion was only accentuated by Williams’s longtime coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, announcing in April that he would no longer be working with Williams after joining forces with the former world No 1 Simona Halep. Williams will instead be accompanied by Eric Hechtman, who normally coaches Venus.
The status of Venus Williams remains uncertain. The elder Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion with seven major singles titles overall, has not competed since August.
Top Feature Photo: Serena Williams, pictured in 2015 celebrating winning her sixth of seven Wimbledon singles titles, has announced she plans to compete this year – Julian Finney/Getty Images