Friday, July 1, 2022

Serena Williams said it will be “super difficult” to win at Wimbledon

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Serena Williams’ comeback appearance won’t happen until Tuesday, but old sparring partner Karolina Pliskova has shot down suggestions that the 23-time Grand Slam winner could be a Wimbledon contender.

The 40-year-old caught the tennis world off guard last Tuesday when she announced her intention to play at the third Major of the year and Rothesay International Eastbourne this week.

Williams suffered a right leg injury at SW19 in 2021 and was forced to retire in the first round but has accepted a wild card to return to the All England Club where she has won the title seven times.

After a 12-month absence from the WTA Tour, the American will team up with Ons Jabeur to play doubles at Eastbourne before attempting to match Margaret Court’s tally of 24 grand slams again.

But last year’s Wimbledon finalist Pliskova said: “I don’t know how long it’s been since she’s played. Has it been a year? It’s been a long time and she’s old, so I guess the body needs some time to get back into shape.

“Playing matches at tournaments is still very different than just practicing and as far as I know she doesn’t play (singles) here, only doubles.

“I think it’s going to be difficult, super difficult for her, no matter what kind of player she is, because that’s a thing where you still need some time.

“But of course she is a great player, she has achieved so much and yet some players will be very afraid to play against her. This is their advantage, but let’s look at the level. I can’t really tell.”

One of those who will hope to avoid Williams in the Wimbledon draw is Spain’s Paula Badosa.

World number three Badosa is among several top-10 players involved in the WTA 500 singles tournament, along with players like Pliskova, whom Williams last beat at the 2019 Australian Open.

Jabeur and Williams meet Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova at Devonshire Park with the doubles expected to take place on Tuesday.

“I think it surprised everyone but it’s very good to have her back. It really amazes me how she has all this hunger after the game,” Badosa said of Williams.

“It’s a great inspiration. It’s nice to have her back and I hope she can be back for much longer because I think she’s doing very well in tennis.

“But on the other hand, of course I don’t want to play against them! I hope the tie goes for another player because nobody wants to play against Serena and less on grass. Let’s pray for it!”

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