Serena returns to Wimbledon as Nadal considers next Slam stop


LONDON, UK, June 28 Serena Williams returns to singles tennis at Wimbledon after a year’s absence on Tuesday as Rafael Nadal begins his quest to win the third round of a potential Grand Slam on the calendar.

Women’s top seed Iga Swiatek, who has won her last six tournaments, will kick off the proceedings on center court at 1:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. EAT) against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett.

But the focus will be on seven-time champion Williams, who will face unseeded Harmony Tan of France in her first singles match since injury forced her to withdraw from her first-round match last year. last.

Williams, 40, won the last of her singles titles at Wimbledon six years ago but reached the final in 2018 and 2019.

The American, who received a wildcard for this year’s tournament, is locked on 23 Grand Slam singles wins, one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time high.

Doubts were growing over whether Williams – who fell to 1,204th in the world after his spell of inaction – would return to the sport.

But she warmed up by teaming up with Ons Jabeur in doubles at Eastbourne last week and Wimbledon is widely seen as her best chance of winning an elusive 24th Grand Slam.

– Nadal watches the calendar snap-

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Nadal is halfway to winning all four majors this year after following his triumph at the Australian Open by winning his 14th French Open title.

Spaniard Rafael Nadal aims for a third Wimbledon title © AFP / Glyn KIRK

No man has achieved the feat since Ron Laver in 1969, with Novak Djokovic narrowly falling last year when he lost in the US Open final.

The Spaniard’s victory at Roland Garros earlier this month took him to 22 Grand Slam singles titles – two ahead of Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal won the most recent of his two Wimbledon titles in 2010, having claimed his first with an epic triumph over Federer two years earlier.

There was a question mark over his durability over the two weeks at Wimbledon after playing the entire French Open with his troublesome left foot anesthetized.

Iga Swiatek’s victory in the French Open final was his 35th consecutive win © AFP/File/Anne-Christine POUJOULAT

The second seed, 36, has since undergone a course of radio frequency stimulation, a treatment aimed at reducing nerve pain in her foot.

“I can walk normally most days, almost every day,” said Nadal, who faces Argentine Francisco Cerundolo in his opening game.

“When I wake up, I no longer have this pain that I had for a year and a half.”

Swiatek’s last match was a comprehensive victory over Coco Gauff in the French Open final – his 35th consecutive victory.

Wimbledon will test the Polish top seed’s ability to hold the race. Reaching the fourth round last year was her best performance, although she was junior champion in 2018.

“The grass is always tricky,” said the 21-year-old. “I actually like the part where I have no expectations there. It’s kind of refreshing.

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Other players in action in Tuesday’s women’s draw include 2019 champion Simona Halep, who is the 16th seed this year, and last year’s beaten runner-up Karolina Pliskova.

On the men’s side, fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Swiss Alexander Ritschard while 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini, the eighth seed, takes on Chilean Cristian Garin.

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