Serena Williams to make return in Eastbourne
LONDON (AP)—Serena Williams will make her return from a yearlong injury absence when she contests the Eastbourne tournament next week, signalling she should be fit to defend her Wimbledon title.
A statement from her management released on Tuesday in the U.S. said she accepted a wild card to compete on England’s south coast in one of the traditional grass-court warmup events for Wimbledon, which begins on June 20.
Williams has not played on tour since winning her 13th Grand Slam singles title at the All England Club last July.
“I am so excited to be healthy enough to compete again,” Williams said in the statement. “These past 12 months have been extremely tough and character building. I have so much to be grateful for. I’m thankful to my family, friends, and fans for all of their support.
Shortly after her Wimbledon win last year, Williams cut her foot on glass at a restaurant in Germany. She played in an exhibition match in Belgium against Kim Clijsters days later. But when she returned to the United States she had the first of two operations for the injury. The second surgery was in October, and she said she spent 10 weeks in a cast and 10 weeks in a walking boot.
The 29-year-old American was then diagnosed in February with blood clots in her lung. After that, she said she needed treatment for a hematoma—a gathering of blood under the skin—on her stomach.
She returned to practice in April, an event she announced via Twitter, posting a picture of herself on court in a pink bodysuit.
Williams’ older sister Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, also is returning to action after an extended injury absence. Venus has been sidelined since injuring her hip during the Australian Open in January, but her agent said last month she was on track to play at Eastbourne and Wimbledon.
When healthy, the Williams sisters have dominated women’s tennis for much of the past decade. In addition to their 20 total major singles titles, both have spent time at No. 1 in the WTA rankings.
At Wimbledon, the sisters have combined to win nine of the past 11 championships. In that span, the sisters played each other in four of the finals at the All England Club.
Serena has previously made a successful comeback from a long-term injury absence.
In 2006 she only played four tournaments. She missed the French Open and Wimbledon with a knee injury and her ranking fell to 140, but she made the semifinals of her comeback tournament in Cincinnati, and reached the fourth round at the U.S. Open.
In 2007, with her ranking still down at 81, she won the Australian Open as an unseeded player. Only three women have won a major with a lower or no ranking.
Williams is a four-time Wimbledon champion—winning the event in 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010—and over 2002 and 2003 she won the four Grand Slam titles sequentially to claim what she termed the ‘Serena Slam.’