Serena Williams has admitted she is “playing for herself” and prioritising her daughter after spending nine months away from the tennis court. The 23-time Grand Slam champion got injured in her Wimbledon first-round last year and has not played since, with her coach now taking on a new charge in Simona Halep amid her absence. Williams recently hinted she would finally be returning at the site of her last match, Wimbledon.
Williams recently silenced speculation that she would never return to tennis again after her coach of ten years Patrick Mouratoglou announced he would be working with former world No 1 Simona Halep in the short-term. The 40-year-old recently shared an Instagram story with NFL star Aaron Rodgers saying: “We’ve been talking about my comeback and he’s been hyping me up and getting me ready for Wimbledon. Can’t wait!”
The 23-time Major champion has not competed in almost a year, when she was forced to retire at 3-3 in her opening match at Wimbledon last summer after slipping and injuring herself on the Centre Court grass – an injury that also kept her out of the US Open and Australian Open. But Williams has now explained her absence from recent tennis events as she admitted she was enjoying the current stage of her career where she could pick and choose tournaments to suit her lifestyle.
“This chapter makes me happy because for so many years I’ve played, and I’ve loved doing it, but now I’m playing just for me,” she told Insider. “I compete when and where I want to go, but I don’t have to go. So I’m enjoying it in a different way.”
Williams, who has fallen to No 243 as a result of her prolonged injury layoff, also said motherhood was her priority over tennis and she selected tournaments based on how long she would have to be away from her four-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia, named after the ‘AO’ Australian Open she won in 2017 whilst pregnant.
“Mum guilt is real. I always feel so guilty when I’m doing something on my own,” she admitted. “I don’t know if I’m a good mum, and I don’t know if my method works, but I’m very hands-on with my daughter, and it was the same with our parents. So I’ve set really good boundaries, but then after work, I’m going right to my daughter.”
While the 40-year-old was enjoying life as a mother, she herself admitted it left question marks over how much she was able to do after focusing on her daughter. Williams added: “And that’s amazing and good, but now it’s like, ‘Okay, what happens to Serena?’”
While even the 23-time Grand Slam champion herself showed some uncertainty over where her priorities left room for her career, she already sounds well and truly up for equalling Margaret Court’s pre-Open Era record of 24 Major titles at Wimbledon or the US Open. When Rodgers asked her whether she’d be playing the US Open in their recent Instagram video, Williams replied: “Wimbledon’s before the US Open, I’ve got to play Wimbledon first. Exciting!”