Serena Williams will make her long-awaited playing comeback in Abu Dhabi next week following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia, a little over three months ago. The legendary American won a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open earlier this year, edging her sister Venus Williams in straight sets, and was since on maternity leave. She married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month after the pair welcomed their first child Alexis Olympia Ohanian in September. She has announced her return and participation at the exhibition event, which will commemorate its 10-year anniversary, and it will also be the first time that women feature in these Championships.
Williams, 36, in a statement on the tournament’s website, said, “I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September. The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honoured to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event. I look forward to seeing the fans in Abu Dhabi at the 10th Edition of the Championship very soon.”
She is scheduled to face the reigning French Open champion, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, on Day Three on December 30. With news gathering pace on Serena’s likely return being in at the Australian Open in Melbourne after confirmation that her name was in the entry list for the first Grand Slam of the year, she has now made the decision to return to the tennis courts a little earlier than expected.
Brian Lott, Chief Communications Officer of Mubadala, the title sponsor of the tournament, could not contain the exuberant news, saying on the tournament’s website, “For the tennis fans in UAE, having Serena here as part of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship weekend is a thrilling opportunity to see even more world-class tennis. She’s not only an incredible champion, she’s a role model for millions of athletes all over the world and she joins Jelena in offering the UAE a match worthy of grand slam heritage right in the center of Abu Dhabi.”
Ostapenko echoed the sentiments of Serena by saying that she is thrilled and honoured to be one of the first women to play at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships, and she is more determined to follow up her dream 2017 season in Abu Dhabi next week.