Serena Williams signals she will play Wimbledon in cryptic Instagram post

Serena Williams signals she will play Wimbledon in cryptic Instagram post – PA

Serena Williams has suggested she will compete for a record 24th major title at Wimbledon this year, after 11 months on the sidelines through injury.

Williams, 40, last played a competitive match at Center Court at last year’s tournament, when she was forced to retire during the first round through a hamstring problem.

There had been fears that she was on the brink of announcing her retirement earlier this year, especially when her coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced a new partnership with former world No 1 Simona Halep in April.

But Williams teased her return to the All England club that same day in an Instagram video, and on Tuesday posted a cryptic photo of her feet decked out in all-white trainers, standing on a grass court.

In an apparent confirmation of her plans to compete, she wrote: “SW and SW19. It’s a date. 2022 See you there. Let’s go.”

She also tagged the Rothesay International’s Instagram account, indicating she is due to return to the court at next week’s event in Eastbourne. There she will have to contend with a stacked field, which is expected to include US Open champion Emma Raducanu, who is targeting her own return there too.

If Williams plays in Eastbourne, it will act as a warm up to the main event at Wimbledon, where she could make history if she were to win. Williams has been seeking ‘No 24’ in her collection of grand slam titles since 2017, when she won her 23rd at the Australian Open while pregnant with her daughter Alexis Olympia.

Since then she has reached four major finals – two of them at Wimbledon – but has been unable to clinch that all-important 24th, which would see her equal Margaret Court’s record for most major singles titles won.

It will be a tough ask though. Williams has dropped to 1208th in the world rankings and will rely on a wildcard to enter the main draw. There she will be competing against a host of young up-and-coming stars, including Raducanu, French Open finalist Coco Gauff and world No 1 Iga Swiatek, who recently overtook Williams’ best ever match-winning streak to win the title at Roland Garros.

Regardless of results, Williams’s star power at Wimbledon will serve as a huge boost for the tournament, following the controversy surrounding its ban of Russian and Belarusian athletes and the decision from the men’s and women’s tour to subsequently take away its ranking points.

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