Tuesday, June 7, 2011
|Venus and Serena Williams during doubles win at Wimbledon 2009|
Just when American tennis had reached its lowest point in the Open era, the Williams sisters have announced they both plan to return next week to competition after long layoffs, expecting to play the Eastbourne tuneup tournament on grass and then Wimbledon.
Serena Williams, in particular, was a question mark. She hasn't played competitively since capturing the Wimbledon title last summer and soon afterward stepping on a shard of glass at a Munich restaurant. Serena endured two rounds of surgery for cuts to her foot, then an emergency procedure in March to remove a blood clot from her lungs, a frightening condition.
Serena Williams released a statement through her agent, Jill Smoller, confirming her intention to play again beginning with the first round at Eastbourne next Tuesday. Wimbledon starts the following Monday, June 20, when Serena Williams would likely play on the first day as defending champion.
"I am so excited to be healthy enough to compete," Serena said. "These past 12 months have been extremely tough and character building. I have so much to be grateful for. I'm thankful to my family, friends and fans for their support. Serena's back!"
Venus Williams, meanwhile, has not played since retiring during a third round match at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury.
In the absence of the Williams sisters, no American man or woman has contended for any major title, and none made it into the second week at the French Open. Mardy Fish is now the top-ranked U.S. men's player at No. 9. Serena and Venus are still ranked among the highest of American women. Serena is 25th and Venus is 32nd, while Bethanie Mattek-Sands is at No. 31.
Serena, 29, has won 13 majors, including four Wimbledons. Venus, 30, has won seven majors, including five Wimbledons. Together, they have captured nine of the past 11 Wimbledon titles.
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