Serena Williams after ‘rough injury experience’: ‘I didn’t retire. I needed to heal physically, mentally’

Serena Williams training

There were several whispers the past year that Serena Williams may have played her last professional tennis match after the tennis icon kept mum about her return, but the American says she was just trying to recover from a tough ordeal at Wimbledon last year.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner is set to play her first singles match in nearly a full calendar year next week as she will make her long-awaited comeback at Wimbledon with Harmony Tan her first-round opponent on Tuesday.

Asked about whether or not she considered retirement, the former world No 1 told reporters: “I don’t know. I didn’t retire. I needed to heal physically, mentally. Yeah, I had no plans, to be honest. I just didn’t know when I would come back. I didn’t know how I would come back.”

Williams picked up a serious leg injury when she slipped during her opening match at the All England Tennis Club in June last year, forcing her to retire from the encounter.

She had high hopes of competing at the 2021 US Open, but it was a “rough experience” in terms of recovering from the injury.

The American continued: “Last year was tough … I ripped my hamstring. I don’t think anyone ever wants to do that. The whole experience was rough.

“From there I tried to make New York. I gave everything I could, just every day getting ready or trying to make it. But then it’s like, I’m not going to make it. Hung up my rackets for a little bit until I could just heal.

“It’s a tough injury actually to have what I had last year. It was no fun.”

Having dropped to outside the world 1,000, Williams’ name was missing from the initial Wimbledon entry list and many assumed she would not be at SW19.

However, she accepted a wildcard and then used the Eastbourne International doubles alongside Ons Jabeur to prepare for the grass-court Grand Slam.

“Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just worked out,” the 40-year-old said.

“I went into this saying I would play Eastbourne. I would never be ready for singles, I will play doubles and see how I felt. Definitely probably could have played singles there.

“But the doubles was great … I felt more prepared than I thought I would a month or two months or three months ago. So it was surprising, but also it’s a fun time to be out there and to enjoy it. Just to be out on the court again was cool.”