A post on her Instagram showing a pair of white trainers on a grass court, accompanied by the caption SW and SW19. It’s a date. 2022, see you there’, has led to considerable speculation that Serena Williams will play at Wimbledon this season. The American has been out of action for 12 months, with her last appearance on court coming at the All England Club last season where she was forced to retire in the first round after slipping behind the baseline on Centre Court.
The American could have chosen to enter the tournament using a protected ranking, but elected not to do so. That will leave her reliant on being awarded a wildcard if she wishes to play at Wimbledon this year, but it is hard to imagine that the All England Club would not give her a wildcard if she asks for one. It is also not entirely clear which event she intends to play in. She may still harbour ambitions of matching Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slams singles titles.
However, despite Williams’ superb record at Wimbledon – she has won the women’ singles title seven times – it seems unlikely that she would be able to put together a deep run, let alone a title winning one, with so little preparation. An appearance in the doubles, which she has won six times with her sister Venus or in the mixed doubles which she played most recently with Andy Murray in 2019, may be more likely due to the comparatively less strenuous physical demands.
But whichever event Williams plays in, her presence in SW19 will be most welcome for the organisers. The field will not be at its strongest as a result of the ban on Belarusian and Russian players, which will see leading lights such as world #1 Daniil Medvedev and 2021 semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka miss the tournament. There will also be no ranking points on offer. But Williams’ decision to play is a reminder of the considerable esteem that the tournament is held in by most players.