Elena Vesnina plans to return to tour this season, likely only in doubles, but has not yet decided when she will start playing tournaments.
The 34-year-old Russian gave birth to her daughter, Elizabeth, a little more than two years ago and hasn't competed since May 2018 when she appeared in Roland Garros. Vesnina had been aiming to start her comeback following the Australian Open. But with tournament schedules uncertain because of the coronavirus pandemic, she will take a little longer to decide where to play.
"I wanted, if I decided to come back, to announce which tournament. But no WTA schedule has been officially approved [beyond the Australian Open]," Vesnina told Russian sports website Championat. "Initially, the plan was to return at St. Petersburg. It is symbolic to start at home. Now, since dates are shifting, I will look at the schedule."
Vesnina is a former No. 1 in doubles, winning four Grand Slam doubles titles and Olympic gold with Ekaterina Makarova and a mixed doubles major title. She also obtained Top 15 in singles ranking and three singles titles.
She says it's her enjoyment of the game that's behind her comeback.
"The first year, I had no motivation to return," she said. "I just wanted to practice and get my game back... Even now, to be honest, I don't have moments where I feel like the travel or the adrenaline of going on court.
"Most likely, it's that I started to feel myself on court. It was easy for me to play, I wanted to play."
Vesnina, who won more than $12 million during her career, says she will play a limited schedule.
In 2018, WTA rules were changed to allow players to use a protected ranking for 12 events up to three years following the birth of their child.
"I don't plan to play all tournaments. I can afford to come back and play the tournaments I want, also the protected ranking allows me to do this," she said.
Vesnina has not yet chosen a new doubles partner but has been speaking to various WTA players about potentially playing with them.