Serena to make comeback in Abu Dhabi

AFP
The 36-year-old Williams, who has won an Open-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, will take on reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi.
AFP

Former world No. 1 Serena Williams will make her much-anticipated competitive return with an exhibition match on the final day of the Mubadala exhibition event on December 30, tournament organizers announced on Sunday.

The 36-year-old, who has won an Open-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, will take on reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Williams won the Australian Open 11 months ago but has not played since because of pregnancy and the birth of her first child, Alexis Olympia, in September. She has since fallen to 22 in the WTA rankings.

The American, who has never played the 20-year-old Ostapenko, will face the Latvian in the tournament's first ever women's match.

"I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter," she said in a statement on the tournament's website.

"The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men's global tennis season and I am excited and honored to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event."

Williams can equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park next month.

The six-strong men's field in Abu Dhabi features former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who will also be making his comeback.

The Serb has not played competitively since his quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon in July because of an elbow injury.

The exhibition tournament, which starts on December 28, had earlier lost a couple of star attractions, including multiple Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka as well as Milos Raonic.

Reuters

Serena Williams serves to fellow American Nicole Gibbs during their Australian Open third-round match at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, in this January 21, 2017, photo.


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