Serena Williams stepped up her preparation for Wimbledon as she practiced on Centre Court on Friday afternoon. The 40-year-old returned to tennis after one year out at the Eastbourne International this week but was forced to pull out due to an injury to doubles partner Ons Jabeur.
Williams has now taken advantage of Wimbledon’s new policy of allowing players to practice on Centre Court and No.1 Court before the tournament begins next week. Accompanied by coach Eric Hechtman and hitting partner Jarmere Jenkins, Williams returned to the site where she last made an appearance 12 months ago, when she limped off due to a leg injury.
She followed world No.1 Iga Swiatej into the main stadium and went through 45 mins of training – which included groundstrokes, overheads and volleys. The American will begin her Wimbledon comeback by facing 113th ranked Harmony Tan on Monday. Earlier this week, Williams admitted she feared she would not play again.
She said: ‘Did I ever doubt I would return? Absolutely, for sure. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn’t and now my body feels great.’ Quizzed on her future, Williams added: ‘You know what I am literally taking it one day at a time. I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I am not making a ton of decisions after this.
‘I did a lot of non-training in the beginning obviously and after I couldn’t play New York I went cold turkey of not working out. ‘It felt good but I always try to stay semi-fit because you never know when you are going to play Wimbledon. ‘I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn’t be here but I also love what I do off the court.’
Due to her long-term absence, Williams is now ranked outside of the WTA’s top 1200 players. Seven of her 23 Grand Slams have come in Wimbledon and Williams will be in the hunt for a record-braking 24th come Monday’s opener. Alexis Ohanian posted a picture of his wife, Serena Williams, on his official Twitter account.
Interestingly, that picture was from the Rome Masters back in 2015, when Ohanian first met the American tennis legend. In the caption, he wrote, “2015. This was the first photo I took of my now wife; the same day I met her randomly at breakfast & she invited me to see her match in Rome. Please disregard the dated IG filter I put on it…”
Notably, Ohanian was coincidentally staying at the same hotel as Serena, when the latter was playing the Rome Masters in 2015. One morning, the Reddit co-founder sat next to Serena’s table for breakfast and ended up getting a ticket for her match at the Italian Open. Speaking about the incident, Serena said, “This guy comes and he just plops down at the table next to us and I’m like, ‘Huh! All these tables and he’s sitting here?’”