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Serena Williams' long awaited return to the court at Wimbledon might not be the fairytale comeback fans might be hoping for, Karolina Pliskova has warned.
After spending more than a year on the sidelines to recover from a troublesome knee injury, Williams will be making her singles tennis comeback at Wimbledon, with a doubles pairing alongside Ons Jabeur at Eastbourne.
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The 40-year-old Williams retired in the first round of Wimbledon last year, and earned a wildcard after announcing her intention to play last week.
However World No.7 Pliskova admitted to some scepticism about Williams' long-awaited comeback.
Last year's Wimbledon finalist said that Williams' reputation spoke for itself and would undoubtedly be a factor in her matches, but expressed doubt about the American great's fitness level.
"I don't know how long it has been since she has played. Has it been a year? It is a long time, and she is not the youngest any more, so I suppose the body also takes some time to get back into shape," Pliskova said.
"Playing matches at tournaments is still very different to just practising and from what I understand, she is not playing [singles] here, she is just playing doubles.
"I think it will be difficult, super difficult for her, no matter what kind of player she is because this is a thing where you still need some time.
"But of course, she is an amazing player, she achieved so much and still a number of players will be super scared to play her. This is her advantage but let's see the level. I cannot really say."
Serena Williams' rivals wary of Wimbledon comeback
Pliskova will be looking to avenge her loss to Ash Barty in last year's final, and the Czech star can also take some confidence out of her record against the 23-time grand slam winner.
A quarter final win at the 2019 Australian Open and an impressive semi-final win over Williams at the 2016 US Open won't count for nothing.
World No.4 Paula Badosa admitted she was hoping to avoid Williams in the Wimbledon draw, and said she expected many other top players to feel the same way.
"I think it surprised everyone but it's very good to have her back. It really amazes me how she has all this hunger for the game," Badosa said.
"It is a great inspiration. It is nice to have her back and I hope she can be back for much more time because I think she does very good for tennis.
"But the other side, of course I don't want to play against her! I hope the draw goes for another player because no one wants to play against Serena and [even] less on grass. Let's pray for that!"
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.
Last Tuesday, however, Williams posted on Instagram: "SW and SW19. It's a date. 2022 See you there."
"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."
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