Serena Williams To Return To Tennis In Abu Dhabi Exhibition

Former world number one Serena Williams will make her much-anticipated competitive return with an exhibition match on the final day of the Mubadala exhibition event on December 30, tournament organisers announced Sunday.

The 36-year-old, who has won an Open-era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, will take on reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams won the Australian Open 11 months ago but has not played since because of pregnancy and the birth of her first child, Alexis Olympia, in September. She has since fallen to 22 in the WTA rankings.

The American, who has never played the 20-year-old Ostapenko, will face the Latvian in the tournament’s first ever women’s match.

“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter,” she said in a statement on the tournament’s website.

“The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honoured to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event.”

Williams can equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park next month.

The six-strong men’s field in Abu Dhabi features former world number one Novak Djokovic, who will also be making his comeback.

The Serb has not played competitively since his quarter-final loss at Wimbledon in July because of an elbow injury.

The exhibition tournament, which starts December 28, had earlier lost a couple of star attractions, including multiple Grand Slam champions Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.

AFP

Serena Williams Ties Knot With Heartthrob, Alexis Ohanian In Colourful Wedding

American professional tennis player, Serena Williams, and Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian, on Thursday tied the nuptial knot in New Orleans.

Serena stormed the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ themed event in a £2.6 million custom-made Alexander McQueen ball gown.

The ceremony came weeks after the birth of their daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

The star-studded wedding was witnessed by close friends and family members including award-winning pop star Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Ciara, Tina Knowles, Kelly Rowland and sister, Venus Williams.

Mr. Ohanian shared a photo of the wedding with a heartfelt message.

“@serenawilliams: You are the greatest of all time, not just in sport–I’m talking about as a mother and as a wife. I am so excited to write so many more chapters of our fairy tale together. And my whole life I didn’t even realize it, but I was waiting for this moment. And everything that I have done, everything that I am so proud of in my career, and in my life, for the last 34 years, pales in comparison to what we’re doing today. And I am so grateful, and I am so in love. 📸@[email protected]”, he said.

According the SKY News, the couple met by chance at a hotel in Rome. While she was there to play in the Italian open, he was there for a conference.

About 18 months later, Mr. Ohanian proposed to her in the same hotel and at the same table where they first met.

Pictures From Serena Williams’ Pre-Wedding Girls Weekend

Olympic gold medalist and new mother Serena Williams celebrated her upcoming wedding to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian with her family and friends during a glamorous pre-wedding girls’ weekend in New York.

 

Serena, her sister Venus, mother Oracene, friends Ciara & Lala Anthony and other guests took a party bus to a restaurant for dinner. The venue was decorated with flowers, a balloon shaped like an engagement ring and had a four-tier cake covered in pink frosting and sparkly decorations.

Triumphant Venus Quiet About Serena’s New Baby At US Open

Venus Williams gave the public the mother of all silent treatments Friday at the US Open regarding the news of her sister Serena giving birth to a baby girl.

US ninth seed Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion and two-time US Open winner, downed 95th-ranked Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4 to reach the round of 16 on the New York hardcourts.

The achievement was somewhat overshadowed by the much-awaited birth of her younger sister Serena’s baby, one anticipated since she revealed her pregnancy on social media in April.

But Venus, who lost to her pregnant sister in the Australian Open final last January, wasn’t partaking in the joy in public, starting from the first question she faced in a post-match news conference about her emotions when she heard the news.

“I’m definitely available to answer questions about tennis,” Venus said. “That’s all right now.”

It was left for the US Open Twitter page to confirm the birth and offer well-wishes to the family.

“Congratulations to @serenawilliams for giving birth to a baby girl! Sending you (heart emoji) from your friends & family at the #USOpen and @WTA!” the US Open tweeted.

A Florida CBS television station revealed Serena had gone into labor and later that she had given birth, touching off multiple reports and social media congratulation messages.

Spanish third seed Garbine Muguruza, who beat Venus in July’s Wimbledon final, even wished Serena well, saying “I’m very happy for her. It’s such a good moment I’m sure.”

Told the baby was a girl, Muguruza said, “Well, I hope she doesn’t play tennis.”

Muguruza and Venus could meet again in the US Open quarter-finals.

But when Venus took the podium, a moderator reinforced her desire not to talk about the baby, saying “Tennis questions, please,” and later, “Let’s keep it tennis focused.”

After a few sporty inquiries, another attempt at baby comments asked whether the infant has a two-handed backhand or enough depth on her forehand yet.

“Oh, my gosh,” Venus said. “That’s hilarious.”

Venus did reveal she spoke with Serena before the match, although giving away none of the conversation details.

“We always talk. She’s always encouraging me, from every step of the way, every match, always,” Venus said.

“I talked to her before this match, too. She didn’t have any specific advice about this match but more motivational.”

Venus said sometimes their exchanges are done by text, but noted, “We don’t use a lot of emojies at all. We actually use the English language.”

Asked about the birth reports just before she walked onto the court before the match, Venus, the oldest woman in the US Open at age 37, said, “Obviously I’m super excited. Words can’t describe it.”

After the match, an on-court interviewer notedly ignored the subject in questions until ending her remarks by congratulating the Williams family on a wonderful day.

Asked later if it was hard for her to focus on the match, Venus said, “I’m a real professional, because I have been doing this for a long time, so when the first ball starts, it’s a ton of excitement.”

AFP