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Serena Williams to join Venus in Eastbourne return

sports Updated: Jun 07, 2011 16:12 IST
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Serena Williams will make her return to tennis after missing almost a year with injury and illness as she takes a wild card entry into next week's Eastbourne grass-court tournament, tournament officials said on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old one-time world number one who now stands 25th after her months of inactivity, joins her sister Venus in the field at the English south coast beach town.

"I'm so excited to be healthy enough to compete again," the American said in a statement.

"These past twelve months have been extremely tough and character building. I have so much to be grateful for. I'm thankful to my family, friends, and fans for all of their support. Serena's back!"

Serena last played on the WTA as she won a fourth Wimbledon title in July, 2010 beating Vera Zvonareva in straight sets in the final.

Little more than a week later, she suffered what was described by her management as a cut on her foot suffered while exiting a German restaurant. She later underwent surgery on the medical problem which was never fully explained.

She stayed away from match play but was highly visible in the Hollywood and fashion worlds with foot cast and crutches during her down time.

The 29-year-old was then hit by a blood clot in her lungs last February and was rushed to hospital in Los Angeles for an operation to remove it.

Her main means of communication with the outside world has been her Twitter account, with Tweets never speaking of any tennis plans.

Former number one Williams owns 13 Grand Slam titles, including four at Wimbledon. The Eastbourne tune-up ends two days before the June 20 start at the All England club.

Venus Williams, ranked 32nd, will be competing for the first time since January 21 in Melbourne, when she was beaten in the Australian Open third round by Germany's Andrea Petkovic.

The elder sibling has been suffering with an abdominal muscle injury which has kept her off of the WTA ever since. Venus last played Eastbourne in 1998, standing 1-2 at the venue.

The men's side of the tournament will feature Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Australian Lleyton Hewitt.

Joining the Williams sisters will be new French Open champion Li Na as well as 2010 Paris winner Francesca Schiavone and 2008 Roland Garros winner Ana Ivanovic.