EASTBOURNE, England – Serena Williams returned to tennis after a year away with a doubles win at the Eastbourne International on Tuesday and while the American great reaffirmed her love for the game she said her future on the circuit remains uncertain.
The 23-times major champion had not played competitive tennis since limping out of her first-round match at last year’s Wimbledon in tears due to a leg injury, and the 40-year-old said there were times when she doubted she would ever compete again.
However, Williams, who has won seven Wimbledon singles titles, took a wildcard for the grasscourt major and kicked off her preparations with a doubles win with Tunisian Ons Jabeur.
“You know what, I’m literally taking it one day at a time,” Williams told reporters about her plans, saying she “absolutely” had moments of doubt about returning to the Tour.
“I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I’m just not making a ton of decisions after this.”
Williams won the last of her 23 Grand Slam titles at the 2017 Australian Open and remains one shy of equalling Margaret Court’s record for the most major titles.
She reached the final at four majors since returning to the Tour after giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017 but lost in straight sets on each occasion.
Speculation about retirement gathered pace when Williams, who has slipped down the rankings to number 1,204, released her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou in April to train Romania’s Simona Halep.
Asked if she saw herself playing into the next year, Williams said: “I don’t know, I can’t answer that.
“But I love tennis and I love playing, or else I wouldn’t be out here, right?
“But I also love what I do off the court, what I’ve built with Serena Ventures, it’s interesting.”
The Wimbledon main draw kicks off on Monday.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford)