Serena Williams was the victim of a dangerously slippery court situation at Wimbledon last year. During his first round match, he slipped on the grass, injured his right hamstring and had to retire from a major tournament for only the second time in his career. Highlighted by appearances in the semifinals of the Australian Open, he had a fruitful season up to that point, but it came to an end after that injury. He has not played a match since then. In his absence almost all of his ranking points have expired, sending him out of the top 1000, and seemingly, towards the end of retirement. (Split into his 2022 campaign King Richard And cryptocurrency, and I certainly prefer his tennis to both.) On Tuesday, though, Williams, 40, announced that he would accept a wild card to play at Wimbledon. He will begin his season in Eastbourne next week, a grass-court tune-up tournament.

Williams won his last major, the 2017 Australian Open, when his daughter was pregnant with Olympia and took a year off from the tour. Her return can be said to be late in the Serena era, where she picked a lot more with her itinerary, but proved that she can still dominate the big events. In the next 13 majors of pregnancy, she reached four finals – losing to Angelique Karbar, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Bianca Andrescu — two semifinals and a quarter final. He was a bit shaky in that final, but failed to win a set, and as a result, still has a final record that avoids him. Adjusting to the era and the quality of the competition, these achievements are not comparable, but on paper, her 23 major singles titles are a little smaller than the 24 of Margaret Court.

The WTA has changed significantly since Serena last competed. In the meantime, we’ve seen the rise and fall of Naomi Osaka, the surprise retirement of Ash Bertie, and the rise of world number one Iga Suatek, who has been combining invisible winning streams since Serena herself. It will be interesting to see how GOAT stacks up against new blood. Absence on the court is a defining feature of the post-Serena era, but it will be difficult to count him in a tournament where he has won seven singles titles.

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