Serena Williams hasn’t played an organized tennis match since the Fed Cup back in February due to the pandemic.
Now the soon-to-be 39-year-old will return to action this week at the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky. where she could meet her older sister Venus or two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round. The event — which also features former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and American teen sensation Coco Gauff — is the first WTA tournament in the U.S. since the pandemic hit in March.
“I feel like everyone has an opportunity to actually be more fit now, because we spent so much time at home to just kind of work on yourself and your life and your game,” Williams said during a pretournament news conference on Saturday, per The New York Times
Following the event in Kentucky, Williams will play the Western & Southern Open, which was moved to New York the week ahead of the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 31. She previously said he planned to play the Open, and also plans to play the French Open, which begins Sept. 27.
“I see myself doing it all if happens,” she said of the tennis schedule.
Williams, who turns 39 next month, will thus have two more chances in 2020 to secure her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court atop the all-time list.
Serena has yet to win a major title since giving birth to her daughter Olympia in late 2017 and returning to the tour in early 2018. She won her first title as a mother in January at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, but is 0-4 in Grand Slam finals as a mom.
Williams lost the 2018 U.S. Open final to Naomi Osaka and was beaten by Canadian Bianca Andreescu in last year’s final. She also lost back-to-back Wimbledon finals to Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep in 2018 and ‘19.
Several of the top women will skip this year’s Open, including world No. 1 Ash Barty, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 10 Osaka and possibly No. 2 Simona Halep.
Still, the field will be strong and Williams will again have her hands full.
“I think she has the same chances that she has had since the birth of her daughter,” her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told Chris Clarey of the Times.
“She absolutely has the level. It still depends a great deal on her whether she wins a Grand Slam. The Covid, for me, has changed absolutely nothing in that department.”
In terms of covid, Williams has pre-existing health issues because she battled blood clots and life-threatening pulmonary embolisms during childbirth. That could potentially complicate things for her should she get the virus.
“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll be OK but I don’t want to find out. I have like 50 masks I travel with. I never want to be without one.”