Serena Williams announces return to tennis at Eastbourne, Wimbledon
She's back. Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1 Serena Williams will return to tennis next week, almost a year to the day since she last competed. She'll play doubles in Eastbourne, and make her singles return at Wimbledon.
Williams first cryptically teased a grass-court return with an Instagram post on Tuesday morning, writing, "SW and SW19. It's a date." SW19 is the postal code for the All-England Club, where Wimbledon is held.
Both the LTA and Wimbledon later confirmed the news in respective announcements: The LTA announced that Williams will partner with world No. 4 Ons Jabeur of Tunisia next week at the Rothesay International, a WTA 500 event, while Wimbledon revealed her name among its six initial wild cards announced for the women's singles main draw.
Williams' last match ended abruptly on Centre Court last summer, when she retired in tears against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round with a leg injury. But now, she's set to play at Wimbledon for a 21st time. She'll also return to Eastbourne for the first time in 11 years; she's played the tune-up event twice in her career, reaching the quarterfinals in her debut as a 16-year-old in 1998.
Eastbourne was also Williams' comeback tournament after a long layoff in 2011; she spent nearly a year away from the sport following a health complications, including a hematoma and pulmonary embolism, after cutting her foot on broken glass shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2010.
She'll be playing doubles in a WTA event for the first time in more than two years; she last played doubles at the 2020 ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, where she reached the final with good friend and fellow former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in what was the latter's penultimate event before her retirement.
Williams has won the singles title at Wimbledon seven times, partnered her sister Venus to win the doubles title a further six times, and won the mixed doubles title with Max Mirnyi in her debut in 1998. The grass-court major has been one of the most successful stops for the all-time great in her career; she's lost before the quarterfinals just six times in her 20 prior appearances at the event. Before her abridged 2021 campaign, she'd reached the final in her last four appearances: winning in 2015 and 2016, and finishing as runner-up in 2018 and 2019.
Having not played a competitive match in nearly a year, Williams now sits outside the Top 1,000 in the WTA rankings, necessitating her need for wild cards; she would've been eligible to enter events on a protected ranking, but was not on the Wimbledon entry list using one when it was first announced last week.
Main-draw play in Eastbourne begins on Sunday, June 19, while Wimbledon's main event starts on Monday, June 27.