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 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.
Venus comes back
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.
Joining the Williams sisters will be new French Open champion Li Na as well as 2010 Paris winner Francesca Schiavone and Ana Ivanovic.
Lopez sets up clash with Roddick
London: Spain’s Feliciano Lopez defeated Dmitry Tursunov 7-6, 6-3 at Queen’s on Monday to set up a second round clash with four-time champion Andy Roddick.
Lopez enjoyed a shock quarter-final win over world number one Rafael Nadal during an impressive run to the semi-finals here last year and the clay-court specialist again had little problem adapting to the lush lawns of west London.
After rain delayed the start of the annual Wimbledon warm-up event by over an hour, Lopez, ranked 41 in the world, had to save three set points as Tursunov pushed for the opening break at 4-5 in the first set.
Lopez then made Tursunov pay for those missed opportunities as he broke in the next game for a 6-5 lead.
Lopez took complete control in the second set and got the crucial break in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead before serving out the match.
The Spaniard's next test should be significantly tougher as he faces former Wimbledon finalist Roddick, with the American hoping to win a record fifth Queen’s title this year.
Nadal, the top seed at Queen’s, was also due on the club's practice courts just hours after beating Roger Federer in the French Open final in Paris to seal his record-equalling sixth triumph at Roland Garros.