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Serena Williams will return to tennis at Wimbledon after year-long absence

Serena Williams has indicated she plans to play at Wimbledon. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
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Serena Williams, who counts seven Wimbledon titles among her 23 Grand Slam championships, received a wild-card entry into this summer’s grass-court classic and indicated Tuesday morning that she plans to compete.

Williams, 40, shared the news via an Instagram post, accompanied by a photo of her Nike-clad feet on grass, that read: “SW and SW19. It’s a date. 2022, see you there.” SW19 is the post code for the village of Wimbledon, which is southwest of London.

Williams hasn’t competed since she slipped and injured a leg during Wimbledon’s first round last year, which sent her limping off Centre Court in tears, a hand over her heart as the crowd stood in tribute.

During her hiatus from the sport, her ranking has plunged to 1,208, well outside the cutoff for automatic entry to Grand Slam singles events. She could have entered Wimbledon using a protected ranking that’s afforded players sidelined by long-term injury but chose not to. Instead, the All-England Club announced her wild-card entry.

Wimbledon gets underway June 27.

Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association announced Williams will team with Ons Jabeur of Tunisia to play doubles at Eastbourne, a grass-court tuneup event that precedes Wimbledon by one week.

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Williams, whose power, skill and competitiveness revolutionized women’s tennis since she won her first Grand Slam at the 1999 U.S. Open, has been seeking to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles. Court claimed her titles between 1960 and 1973, a period that spanned the sport’s amateur and pro eras, as well as an era in which not all top players routinely contested the four majors.

Williams won her most recent major at the 2017 Australian Open.

After giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, that September, Williams returned to competition in 2018 and reached Wimbledon’s final, falling to Angelique Kerber. She contested the 2019 final, as well, but was edged by Simona Halep.

Women’s tennis is in a period of transition in the wake of then No. 1 Ashleigh Barty’s unexpected retirement, at 25, this spring. Until Tuesday, it wasn’t clear if Williams would return to competition at all.

Since then, Poland’s Iga Swiatek has dominated the sport.

This month, Swiatek, 21, claimed her second French Open championship, conceding just one set over the two weeks at Roland Garros and extending her winning streak to 35 matches in the process.

Heading into Wimbledon, Swiatek holds a commanding lead in the standings, with nearly twice as many ranking points (8,631) as her next competitor, Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit (4,511).

Swiatek’s best performance at Wimbledon came last year, when she reached the fourth round. She and Williams have never met on the court.

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