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Serena Williams has announced on social media that she will be returning for this year's Wimbledon tournament in news that sent fans into hysterics.
The 40-year-old allayed fears that she could be set to retire after taking to Instagram with a short tweet that indicates she is about to end her year-long hiatus from tennis.
The 23-time grand slam singles champion hasn't played since making a tearful exit in the first round at Wimbledon 12 months ago after withdrawing during the first set due to a leg injury.
She had not applied to play using her protected ranking so was not on the initial players' list.
On Tuesday, however, Williams posted on Instagram: "SW and SW19. It's a date. 2022 See you there."
"SW" are her initials, of course, and "SW19" is the UK postal code for Wimbledon.
Wimbledon responded by granting the American great a wildcard entry for singles, bringing forward by 24 hours their planned release date.
It was then revealed Williams would make her comeback at the Eastbourne event, playing doubles with Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, to gain some grasscourt practice.
"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," said Williams.
"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."
Tennis world erupts over Serena Williams announcement
Unsurprisingly, news of Serena's return left the tennis world giddy with excitement, as social media was inundated with messages from her legion of fans.
— Brendan Churchill (@BrenChurchill) June 14, 2022
i can't believe Serena is actually going to Wimbledon this year 😭
— Kaiser@Celebitchy (@KaiseratCB) June 14, 2022
Wimbledon has announced its initial set of main draw singles wildcards, which includes 7-time champion Serena Williams. pic.twitter.com/3Eehm9tjHT
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) June 14, 2022
SERENA IS PLAYING WIMBLEDON!!!! OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENING!!! pic.twitter.com/x3TmUsMn72
— Autistic Tennis Fan (@AutisticTennis) June 14, 2022
All right I'm so excited. Serena Williams will be back on the court 🎾
— Shawn (@jawshocker) June 14, 2022
On Instagram, Serena Williams seems to indicate a return at #Wimbledon later this month.
Williams did not enter the singles main tournament at the deadline as she could have using a protected ranking, so we will have to wait and see what this means. pic.twitter.com/GD3Q4hUHQu
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 14, 2022
Williams' long absence from the sport has seen her ranking dip to a lowly World No.1208 but the American looms as a nightmare first round opponent for any of the seeded women's stars.
The American has won seven singles championships at Wimbledon, most recently in 2016, and reached the final in 2018 and 2019 (the tournament was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19).
Five British players were also given wildcards with two other places to be announced.
Seven of the eight men's wild-card berths were also confirmed, including one for three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka.
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