The party is about to start at the All England Club, and a major guest has accepted her invitation – Serena Williams, owner of the most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era (23), was granted a wild card for the ladies’ singles main draw.
A seven-time winner at Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016), Serena’s currently dropped to 1024th in the WTA Rankings and her last singles match was almost a year ago to the day – a loss via retirement against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of Wimbledon 2021. If she plays on Monday July 27, the first day of action, it will 363 days since her last game.
Serena Williams’s comeback tournament in Eastbourne came to an end in the semi-finals after her doubles partner, Ons Jabeur, withdrew from their game citing a knee injury. The American didn’t show much, but she attracted a huge presence on the English south coast.
But what can we expect from her in the singles draw? It’s always hard to rule out Williams from any tournament she is in. Despite her lengthy absence, no-one will want to see their name next to hers in round one. Serena’s record speaks for itself. In the history of tennis, only Australian Margaret Court has won more majors (24) across both the Amateur and Open Era.
Across all four majors, Wimbledon is probably the one that brings Serena the greatest memories. She’s won there seven times, the same number as in the Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2017), whilst she’s also triumphed six times at the US Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014) together with three at the French Open (2002, 2013 and 2015).
Unsurprisingly, Williams has the highest number of Grand Slam wins in the Open Era (365), 94 more than her sister, Venus, whose 271 wins are enough for a place in the top five in history.
Navratilova has got her number when it comes to women’s singles wins at Wimbledon though.
Records Still at Stake for Serena
For someone who has won it all, it’s amazing that there are still records for Serena Williams to beat. The American is already the oldest female player to win Wimbledon in the Open Era, doing so in 2016 at the age of 34, defending her 2015 title. Martina Navratilova won at 33, in 1990, followed by 31-year-olds Virginia Wade (1977) and Billie Jean King (1975).
Three years after winning her last title at Wimbledon, Serena reached the final again in 2019, at 37 years old, and equalled her sister Venus in 2017 and Martina Navratilova in 1994 as the oldest players to reach the final.
Now at 40 years old, Serena still has records to pursue in her return to professional tennis. The first will be reached when she simply enters the court to play, as she will become the second female in the Open Era to make 80+ appearances in Grand Slam main draws, along with her sister Venus (currently 90).
But there is more: with 98 victories at the All England Club, Serena will become the first female player in the Open Era to win 100+ matches in two different Grand Slam tournaments if she advances to the third round. Chris Evert fell short of that by four wins – she had 101 at the US Open and 96 at Wimbledon.
If she were to go on an improbable run to the final, Williams would equal Chris Evert for the most finals reached in majors in the Open Era (34).
On top of that, Serena has already played in 11 Wimbledon finals, and is one behind Martina Navratilova, who has reached more women’s singles finals in a single Grand Slam tournament in the Open Era than any other player in history.
By winning what would be an unpredictable eighth Wimbledon title, Serena Williams would join Kim Clijsters as the only other female player to win a Grand Slam title as a wild card. The Belgian did so at the US Open in 2009, while Justine Henin reached the final of the Australian Open in 2010 as a wild card but lost to Serena.
What we can expect in terms of her performance is unknown, but Serena’s return to SW19 is undoubtedly a huge boon for this year’s tournament.
Banner design by Matt Sisneros.
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