Injuries forced Serena Williams to spend a rough year away from tennis, and at one point, she had second thoughts about her comeback, the former world number one revealed on Saturday as she got ready to play Wimbledon once more.
At the grasscourt Grand Slam, where Williams, 40, has won seven of her 23 major championships, was forced to leave her first-round match last year due to a leg ailment. The American needed a wildcard from Wimbledon’s organisers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, to play in the women’s singles main draw after her ranking dropped to 1,204.
Nevertheless, at this week’s Eastbourne competition, she teamed up with Tunisian Ons Jabeur in doubles as a warm-up for the major, which begins on Monday. The pair advanced to the quarterfinals when Jabeur’s injury ended their campaign.
“I just didn’t know when I would come back”- Serena Williams
“I don’t know. I didn’t retire. I needed to heal physically, mentally. Yeah, I had no plans, to be honest. I just didn’t know when I would come back. I didn’t know how I would come back. Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just worked out. I went into this saying I would play Eastbourne. I would never be ready for singles, I will play doubles and see how I felt. Definitely probably could have played singles there,” Serena Williams told the reporters.
“But the doubles was great … I felt more prepared than I thought I would a month or two months or three months ago. So it was surprising, but also it’s a fun time to be out there and to enjoy it. Just to be out on the court again was cool. Last year was tough … I ripped my hamstring. I don’t think anyone ever wants to do that. The whole experience was rough,” the American added.
“From there I tried to make New York. I gave everything I could, just every day getting ready or trying to make it. But then it’s like, I’m not going to make it. Hung up my rackets for a little bit until I could just heal. It’s a tough injury actually to have what I had last year. It was no fun,” she concluded.
For the American, who wants to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Major victories, winning the Wimbledon will be a difficult task. She has the chance to ease into the draw, though, with potential matches against Harmony Tan and the 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo. Next up for her are the sixth seed and last year’s runner-up Karolina Pliskova and 2022 French Open runner-up Coco Gauff. However, if Williams finds her early form, she may make them pay for any errors.