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WIMBLEDON, United Kingdom – Serena Williams knows everything about comeback: after injuries, illnesses, pregnancy, the American has always managed, until now, to return to being the owner of the circuit. But what will happen this time in Wimbledon where, at 40, she returns after a year without playing?
“I have not retired. I needed to heal myself physically and mentally, I had no plans, I just didn’t know when I would be back and what state I would be back in, “said the player who had left midfield at first. of a thigh injury.
If he has won seven of his 23 Grand Slam titles there and played four more finals there, the former World Number 1, now 1204th in the WTA rankings, has received an invitation to participate in the Grass Major this year.
After almost 12 months of absence from competitions, Williams returned to the circuit through the back door, even by surprise, on Tuesday at the WTA 250 tournament in Eastbourne, in doubles with Tunisian Ons Jabeur (3rd in the world in singles).
Though their journey was cut short before the semifinals due to Jabeur’s resignation, Williams ensured they got “exactly what (she) needed by coming” to Eastbourne.
Four times in his career, which began in 1995, he had to take a break.
In August 2003, a knee operation interrupted a phenomenal streak: consecutive titles at Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the 2002 United States Open, followed by the title at the 2003 Australian Open, then half at Roland-Garros and a new one. title at Wimbledon.
When she returned to Key Biscayne in April 2004, she had set herself apart from the start to win the 24th of her 73 titles. She then reached the final at Wimbledon in July, but had to wait for the 2005 Australian Open to win a new major, her seventh.
In 2006, his left knee caused him to jump back six months. She then fell to 140th place in the world and finished the year without the slightest title having played only four tournaments. In 2007 she climbed to 5th place in the world with a new title at the Australian Open.
In 2010, physical troubles resumed with notably one foot damaged by walking on shards of glass, two operations and an emergency hospitalization in March 2011 following a pulmonary embolism.
His return for the summer tour on the grass did not allow him to stem a further decline in the world rankings, which dropped to 175th place in July. But he had found a good carburetion during the hard court tournaments that followed, up to the final at the United States Open.
“Walk on the water”
This was followed by good years with ten new majors from Wimbledon 2012 to the Australian Open 2017 under the guidance of his new manager Patrick Mouratoglou.
“She won Wimbledon and the confidence this victory gave her made her walk on water,” recalled the coach in an interview with AFP. This is where she played the best tennis of her life, she was untouchable. “
Another hiatus in April 2017, following her 23rd Grand Slam title in Melbourne, this time to give birth to her daughter Olympia in November.
Upon her return in 2018, she made it to the final at Wimbledon and then to the US Open and did the same the following year. She never managed to equal the all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles held by Margaret Court.
Her new attempt at Wimbledon this year is a long way off, especially as she is no longer accompanied by Mouratoglou.
“I doubted I could go back? Yes of course “, admitted the person concerned, explaining that he always kept” half form “.
So, as 2021 finalist Karolina Pliskova pointed out, Serena’s return to Wimbledon will be complicated because “she’s not very young anymore” and the body needs time and match mind to get back to its best level.
But as rusty as Serena is, “everyone wants to avoid her, especially if she wins a few games, admitted Maria Sakkari (5th in the world) before the tournament. She then she will begin to gain confidence … and she is Serena Williams, the greatest athlete of all time. “