Serena Williams back to defend Wimbledon title
Serena Williams will return to action next week . . . just in time to defend her Wimbledon title.
Serena plans to take in the WTA Tour in Eastbourne next week after almost a year out through injury.
The 29-year-old American suffered a badly-cut foot after winning Wimbledon last year — standing on some broken glass in a German restaurant — and has not played since.
She underwent two operations and then also had to have treatment to remove a blood clot in her lung.
She returned to training in April and is hoping an appearance at Eastbourne will provide at least some preparation as she attempts to defend her crown at Wimbledon.
In a statement released by her agent, Williams said: “I am so excited to be healthy enough to compete again.
“These past 12 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.
Williams has won 13 grand slam titles, including four at Wimbledon.
Meanwhile, British number two Heather Watson has been granted a Wimbledon wild card.
The 19-year-old yesterday broke into the top 100 for the first time, reaching 93 in the world after becoming the first British woman for 17 years to win a round at the French Open.
The world's top 100 gain automatic entry into all grand slam tournaments but Watson's jump up the rankings from 117 came just after the Wimbledon cut-off point.
Watson — who won the junior US Open in 2009 — made her first grand slam appearance at Wimbledon last year after being given a wild card but lost in the first round.
The Guernsey-born player yesterday beat Chanelle Scheepers — a South African ranked four places above her — to reach the second round of the AEGON Classic being staged at Edgbaston.
The All England Club have also extended wild card invitations to Laura Robson, the former Junior Wimbledon champion, Naomi Broady, Katie O'Brien and Emily Webley-Smith.
On the men's side, former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Arnaud Clement has received a wild card along with British trio James Ward, Daniel Cox and Daniel Evans plus Colombian Alejandro Falla.
Ward, the British number two behind Andy Murray, yesterday beat Cox in the first round of the AEGON Championships at Queen's Club.