Serena Williams will make her return to Grand Slam tennis at Wimbledon this month after being given a wildcard entry to the singles.
The 40-year-old American, who is a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, has not played since injuring herself in the first round at SW19 last year.
She will make her return to tennis by playing doubles at Eastbourne alongside Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the week before Wimbledon then compete at the All-England Club, where she is a seven-time singles champion.
Williams’ elder sister Venus, who has won the singles at Wimbledon five times and the doubles six times alongside Serena, was not in the initial batch of singles wildcards announced on Tuesday.
However, the 40-year-old, who has not played on the WTA Tour since August, could still be given one of the remaining two spots for the tournament, which begins on 27 June.
Serena – who earlier on Tuesday had posted an image of her trainers on grass, captioning it: “SW and SW19. It’s a date” – is currently ranked 1,208 because of her prolonged inactivity.
She won the last of her Wimbledon titles in 2016 but reached the final in 2018 and 2019 after returning from maternity leave. She last won a Grand Slam singles title at the 2017 Australian Open.
The younger Williams first played in the singles event at Wimbledon as a 16-year-old in 1998 and has only missed the tournament three times since, including when pregnant with daughter Olympia in 2017.
She reached 2018 final, where she lost to Angelique Kerber, in just her fourth tournament back after giving birth.
However, her most recent attempt to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles ended in heartbreak on Centre Court last year, when she was forced to retire injured against Aliaksandra Sasnovich after slipping.
The injury kept her out of the US Open and Australian Open that followed and there were doubts that she would return to the WTA Tour at all.
Her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou has since started working with 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, saying in April that he had spoken to the American before taking up the position.
Williams said she was “looking forward” to playing in front of fans at Eastbourne, which is the final grass-court event in the UK before Wimbledon.
Williams and Jabeur are not likely to play their first match before Tuesday, 21 June.