Brutal truth emerges ahead of Serena Williams return at Wimbledon

Serena Williams, pictured here at Wimbledon in 2021.
Serena Williams hasn't played since Wimbledon in 2021. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images) (PA Images via Getty Images)

Tennis pundit Barbara Schett has put a dampener on the excitement surrounding Serena Williams' return at Wimbledon, predicting the 23-time grand slam champion will struggle after 12 months out.

Serena sent the tennis world into meltdown on Tuesday when she announced she was accepting a wildcard for the grass-court grand slam.

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The 40-year-old hasn't played since she was forced to retire hurt in the opening round at Wimbledon last year.

However she will make her return at Eastbourne next week in the lead-up to Wimbledon, teaming up with Ons Jabeur to play doubles.

Reacting to the news on Tuesday, former World No.7 and Eurosport pundit Schett suggested fans should temper their expectations for Serena's return.

“She hasn't played for one year, and now she's decided to take that wild card," the Austrian said.

"It's very exciting, I think for women's tennis, it's very exciting for all of us to be able to watch her.

"And I think it's exciting times for her. The question is, just how much has she practised?

“I think if you're out for a whole year, it's very difficult because you're not playing any matches. Even if you practise a lot. It's not the same.

“I think with her game style, she has a big serve. If she has been practising, that will help her a lot. But the matter is, how is her movement going to be on the grass court?

Serena Williams, pictured here retiring hurt in the first round at Wimbledon in 2021.
Serena Williams retired hurt in the first round at Wimbledon in 2021. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) (Julian Finney via Getty Images)

“We all know that's the hardest area, the hardest surface to actually move [on]. And I think we [will] get a better idea when she plays that first match.

“But I'm sure she's going to be very rusty. Plus, she's 40 years old, which for a tennis player is quite old, unfortunately.”

Nevertheless, Schett said Serena's inclusion would be a frightening prospect for the rest of the WTA field.

As a wildcard she will likely play a top-20 opponent in the first round at Wimbledon.

"One thing is for sure, nobody wants to play against Serena Williams," she said.

"So the other 127 players are going to be scared to draw Serena Williams."

Serena Williams to play doubles with Ons Jabeur

Serena's decision to accept a wildcard came after she didn't use her protected ranking to gain automatic entry into Wimbledon - the grass-court major she's won seven times.

The 40-year-old said she's excited to team up with Jabeur at Eastbourne and get back into the swing of things.

"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," she said on Tuesday.

"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."

Williams may be ranked a lowly 1208th in the world, but she made the final at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019.

She most recently won the grass-court major in 2016, but has been stuck on 23 grand slam titles since her Australian Open title in 2017.

Australian great Margaret Court holds the all-time women's record with 24.

with AAP

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