Serena Williams Appears to Confirm Wimbledon Return: 'I've Got to Play'

Serena Williams will be back at Wimbledon this year, she appeared announced on Thursday.

via People:

In a since-expired Instagram Story video, the 23-time grand slam champion told Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that she’ll be once again playing the world’s oldest tennis competition this summer — in a move that would mark her return to the sport.

“We’ve been talking about my comeback, and he’s been hyping me up and getting me ready for Wimbledon,” Williams, 40, told her followers, of Rodgers, 38. “Can’t wait!”

She went on to clarify to Rodgers that “Wimbledon’s before the US Open” when he asked why she wouldn’t be participating in this year’s event. “I’ve got to play Wimbledon first,” she said, hinting at an Open return too. “Exciting!”

“She’s back,” Rodgers said at the end of the video, pointing to Williams.

A rep for Williams did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Williams has won Wimbledon seven times, most recently in 2016 when she defeated Angelique Kerber in the final of the grass court tournament.

But last year at Wimbledon, she slipped on the court and suffered a right leg injury during her first round match against against Aliaksandra Sasnovichat, withdrawing from the competition.

She has not played tennis professionally since. The four-time Olympic gold medalist had announced she was not to go to the Tokyo Olympics prior to Wimbledon, but her injury caused her to notably miss the 2021 US Open. In December 2021, she revealed she would not be participating in January’s 2022 Australian Open on the advice of her medical team.

“While this is never an easy decision to make, I am not where I need to be physically to compete,” she said.

Williams has been chasing Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam singles titles.

Back in February 2021, Williams spoke to Entertainment Tonight about her eventual retirement, saying she’s “prepared for that day.”

“I’ve been prepared for that day for over a decade,” said Williams, who saw her early days in the sport — and her father’s influence on her and her sister — depicted in the Oscar-nominated film, King Richard. “If you’ve seen King Richard you know that my dad always said you got to prepare, so I’ve been prepared for that. You know, at the end of the day, I think it’s really important to always have a plan and that’s kind of what I did. I always had a plan.”

Part of that plan has been expanding her family. She and husband Alexis Ohanian share daughter Olympia, 4, and though she said the “balancing act” of being a mom and a tennis star can be “overwhelming,” she “definitely wants to have more kids.”

“It’s just like, balance is key, you know, and just trying to find that balance,” she added. “I don’t know, it’s always like, OK, are we ready? And I know the clock is ticking so I’m just like OK, I need to figure out when that’s going to be, but hopefully soon when I will feel no pressure.”

Patrick Mouratoglou, who has been Williams’ coach since 2012, told PEOPLE in February 2020 that he doesn’t believe retirement is on the horizon for the athlete. “I don’t think she will stop until she at least wins a Grand Slam, because she came back to win Grand Slams,” he said.

When Serena does decided to retire, the sport will never be the same!

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