Serena Williams will make her long-awaited return to the game after a year-long layoff after earning a wildcard for the Wimbledon singles draw.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, she announced her return by including a photo of her sneakers and ankle braces on the 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’ return to individual competition by announcing him as the recipient of a wildcard. The generic announcements were due to be made on Wednesday today, but the fanfare around Williams’ possible appearance led to an earlier reveal. Wimbledon starts on June 27.
In his post, Williams also tagged the Eastbourne International, the pre-Wimbledon WTA event which begins next week. She will take her first steps on the playing field when she competes in the doubles table with Tunisian Ons Jabeur, world number 4 in singles.
“I’m delighted to be returning to Rothesay International Eastbourne in England and to be back on grass – a surface that has done me so much good throughout my career. Eastbourne has a unique charm that you don’t see nowhere else on the circuit and I can’t wait to play in front of the fans again,” Williams said in a statement.
Williams hasn’t 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 due to injury to the left leg. In the meantime, his ranking has dropped to 1,208.
As she did not apply for a protected classification before Wimbledon, she did not appear on the entry list and she needed a wildcard to participate in the event. With 23 Grand Slam singles titles, Williams holds the Open-era Grand Slam record. At Wimbledon, she won seven singles titles, six women’s doubles titles alongside her sister, Venus, as well as 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 will be 41 on September 26.
Although he hasn’t competed for the past year, Williams has remained in the public eye. She was primarily a producer with her sisters, Venus and Isha, for the Oscar-nominated film King Richard.
As Williams did not appear on sign-up rosters throughout the season, there was great uncertainty as to whether she would ever return to the sport. Such talk was only heightened by longtime Williams coach Patrick Mouratoglou announcing in April that he would no longer work with Williams after linking up with 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 eldest Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion with seven major singles titles in total, has not competed since August.