Coach announces Serena Williams' return amid retirement fears

Serena Williams, pictured here after her loss at the Australian Open.
Serena Williams addresses the media after her loss at the Australian Open. (Rob Prezioso/Tennis Australia via AP)

Serena Williams' coach has revealed the tennis superstar will return to the WTA Tour at next month's Italian Open in Rome before playing the French Open.

Williams hasn't played since the Australian Open in February where she made a teary exit after losing to Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.

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Williams broke down in tears and left her post-match press conference abruptly after being asked about her future in the sport.

Amid growing concerns from fans that she is on the brink of retirement, Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou has confirmed she will be back.

Speaking to L'Equipe recently, Mouratoglou said Williams will play one warm-up event before Roland Garros - most likely in Rome.

Fans were delighted to hear the news that Williams will be back on court sooner rather than later.

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Williams, 39, will begin her preparations for the clay-court season this week at the Mouratoglou Academy in Nice.

Williams will head to the French Open still trailing Margaret Court's all-time grand slam record of 24 by one.

And Mouratoglou is backing her to return to top form at Roland Garros.

Williams has not been beyond the fourth round at the French Open since returning to the sport in 2018 following the birth of daughter Olympia, but she has twice been forced to withdraw through injury.

Mouratoglou recently cited the 39-year-old's improved fitness as the key factor behind her impressive form in Australia and is looking to continue that work during the build-up to Roland Garros, which begins on May 30.

"She did a tremendous effort before the Australian Open and was very much in shape, so this is something that we definitely want to keep and continue to improve because it's a key, and it's going to be even more a key on clay," he said earlier this month.

"I think she can really play very good on clay. She just has to be really very fit because on clay the serve is not as efficient and you have to work much more. Every rally is a fight.

Patrick Mouratoglou and Serena Williams, pictured here at the French Open in 2020.
Patrick Mouratoglou and Serena Williams at the French Open in 2020. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

"But I feel if she's really, really ready, physically 100 per cent, then she can be very dangerous on clay as well.

"The level is high but I still believe that, when Serena is 100 per cent at the top of her physical form, she can win any slam."

Mouratoglou also dismissed speculation that Williams has played her last Australian Open.

"She was extremely disappointed because she really felt like she was ready to win it, she was playing really, really good tennis," said Mouratoglou of her Australian adventure.

"She really felt this one was for her and she was disappointed about her match and her performance.

"Naomi played a good match but it was not the same Serena by far.

"It's always difficult to take some positives when you have a big disappointment like that but there are some positives and I told her that her fitness was really great and that's the key and we have to keep working like that."

with agencies

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