Venus Williams to play Australian Open in staggering announcement

Venus Williams was runner-up to sister Serena at the Australian Open in 2017. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Venus Williams was runner-up to sister Serena at the Australian Open in 2017. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Venus Williams will be back in action at the Australian Open in January after Tennis Australia announced on Monday that the 42-year-old had accepted a wildcard to play the year's first grand slam. Neither Venus or Serena Williams contested the Australian Open in 2022 for the first time in overs 20 years.

And while Serena won't be playing at Melbourne Park in 2023, her older sister Venus will be representing the famous family. Tennis Australia announced on Monday that Venus had accepted a wildcard to play the Australian Open for the 22nd time in her career.

'FUN TO WATCH': Nick Kyrgios in awkward scenario with ex-girlfriend

'DISRESPECT': Kyrgios rages after Ash Barty wins Newcombe Medal

"I am very excited to be returning to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open in January," Williams said in a statement released by Tennis Australia. "I've been competing in the country for over 20 years now and the Australian community has always supported me wholeheartedly. It will be an honour to play for the fans again and I'm looking forward to making more memories at the tournament this year."

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he was delighted to welcome Venus back after she missed the hard-court tournament in January. The 42-year-old holds a 54-21 win-loss record at Melbourne Park, however she's never won the title despite reaching at least the quarter-finals on nine occasions.

"Venus is not just an incredible player and fan favourite, she's a great role model and leader in our sport in so many ways," Tiley said. "We are delighted to welcome her back to the AO in January."

Venus only played four singles matches on the WTA tour in 2022, losing all four. She is currently ranked 1007th in the world.

Tennis world erupts over news about Venus Williams

The Australian Open singles title is the biggest major trophy to elude Venus, who has won seven grand slam singles titles. She made the final at Melbourne Park in 2003 and 2017 - losing both to sister Serena. The 2017 final was most memorable for the fact that Serena was pregnant with her daughter at the time.

Venus has won the Australian Open doubles title on four occasions (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010), as well as the mixed title in 1998. Sister Serena won't be in Australia in January after announcing she was stepping away from professional tennis after the US Open in September.

Venus and Serena Williams, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2017.
Venus and Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2017. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Speaking after her loss alongside Serena in the doubles at the US Open, Venus said: "I think I'm retired from doubles now."

However she stressed that she still had the desire to keep playing singles. "No plans for this year. But watch out for next year," she wrote on social media. "Work on my game. Spend time with the family. Time with my teams. And time at home. It's been a while."

Williams' entry means she joins an incredible women's field featuring 12 major champions and an unusually high main-draw entry ranking cut-off of World No.95. The 2023 Australian Open will take place from January 16-29.

with AAP

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.