Serena Williams has been tipped to bring the fear factor with her to Wimbledon as she prepares to finally make her Grand Slam return after ending her 12-month hiatus. The decorated American champion will be hoping to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles at the All England Club after she was handed a wildcard for the main singles draw following her announcement that she would resume playing earlier this week.
It remains to be seen whether Williams will be firing on all cylinders, though, having not featured in a single tournament since getting injured in her first-round match at Wimbledon last year. However, current world No 4 Paula Badosa is expecting Williams to be the player that nobody will want to face when the draw for the next Grand Slam of the year is made on Friday.
“Of course I don’t want to play against her,” said Badosa. “I hope the draw goes for another player, because of course no one wants to play against Serena and less on grass, so let’s pray for that.”
Williams is set to play in the doubles tournament at Eastbourne this week as she ramps up her grass-court preparations for Wimbledon, which is set to get underway on Monday. There had been rumours that the 40-year-old would retire from professional tennis due to the length of her recent absence, but it seems as though she is still keen on adding to her long list of achievements before she eventually decides to call it quits .
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Her upcoming Grand Slam comeback has struck fear into the hearts of a number of players, with some having already echoed Badosa’s desire to steer clear of a first-round clash against her at Wimbledon. Ons Jabeur, who will play alongside Williams at Eastbourne, recently joked that a match-up with Iga Swiatek would be the perfect outcome before speaking of her pride in partnering the Michigan native at Devonshire Park.
“I hope she [draws] Iga, at least someone should stop Iga a little bit,” said Jabeur. “Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her.
“Honestly, Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be. And the fact that she returned and I get to be part of her journey, it’s really unbelievable.
“She did a lot for our sport and I really respect her, respect her story, respect everything that she’s been through. I hope I can learn even two percent from it.”
Williams has lifted the top prize at Wimbledon on seven previous occasions and will be hoping to add a record-breaking eighth triumph when this year’s event gets underway next week. She will need to overcome any ring rust at Eastbourne over the coming days, though, in order to stand the best chance of pipping the likes of Swiatek and Badosa to glory in SW19.
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