Serena Williams will play singles at Wimbledon after being awarded a wild card.
The 23-time grand slam singles champion made a tearful exit in the first round at the All England Club 12 months ago after retiring during the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a leg injury and doubts had been growing about whether she would play again.
But on Tuesday Williams posted on Instagram: “SW and SW19. It’s a date. 2022 See you there.”
It was unclear whether Williams, now ranked a lowly 1208, was intending just to play doubles but a hastily brought forward announcement from Wimbledon regarding its wild cards revealed she will be in the singles draw.
The 40-year-old will make her return to competitive tennis next week at the Rothesay Eastbourne International, where she has been given a wild card into the doubles with Tunisian Ons Jabeur.
Williams said: “I am excited to return to the Rothesay International Eastbourne in England and to be back on the grass – a surface that has been so good to me throughout my career.
“Eastbourne has a unique charm that you don’t see anywhere else on tour and I’m looking forward to playing in front of the fans again.”
Suspicions that she had effectively retired grew when her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou revealed in April that he had taken on a new role with Simona Halep.
Wimbledon is widely considered Williams’ best chance of claiming a 24th slam singles crown to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
She has twice reached the final since returning from maternity leave in 2018, losing to Angelique Kerber that summer and Halep the following year.
It will be her 21st appearance in singles at the All England Club, with Williams having won the title on eight occasions, most recently in 2016.
Wimbledon board member Tim Henman said: “It is a good selection on the women’s side.
“Serena requested (a wild card) actually a couple of weeks ago and she is going to play down at Eastbourne. Hopefully she will get a good chance of getting some grass-court preparation in.”
British players dominated the rest of the wild card list, with Katie Boulter, Jodie Burrage, Sonay Kartal, Yuriko Miyazaki, Katie Swan, Liam Broady, Jay Clarke, Alastair Gray, Paul Jubb and Ryan Peniston all given spots in the singles main draws.
Joining them will be three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who has returned from a long-term foot injury this season, and Dutchman Tim Van Rijthoven, who was a shock winner of last week’s Libema Open.