Serena Williams entering the main draw at Wimbledon 2022 is "surprising", according to Todd Woodbridge, who wonders if she may be set to say goodbye at the iconic Grand Slam.
Williams has been sighted on court only twice since her withdrawal against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon. A leg injury kept the 40-year-old out of last year’s US Open and this season’s Australian Open, while she elected to skip the French Open.
Her appearance at Wimbledon was confirmed earlier this month, and she made her playing return in the doubles alongside Ons Jabeur at the Eastbourne International.
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Williams kicks off her quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles title against Harmony Tan of France on Tuesday afternoon, and Woodbridge is not sure what to expect from the American.
"What is so surprising is that she didn’t enter - she was not going to turn up," Woodbridge told Eurosport.
"She must have not thought she was ready, but then she got the bug and thought, ‘you know what, I’m coming’. We saw her play a couple of doubles matches with Ons Jabeur, which gave us an insight into what sort of form she brings.
"I’m a little concerned for her, having not played for a year. How is she moving? She has had the opportunity to go out onto Centre Court and test - which is something new. The club broke the tradition, allowing players to go and break that court in so it’s not as greasy on the first day.
"They were worried about injuries, which is what happened to Serena last year. When we look at Serena, she’s been such an offensive and aggressive player, but it’s her defensive capabilities and her movement that has really been outstanding.
"If she can bring those into the singles, she could be dangerous, but I think it could be hard for her having been away from the game.
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"I don’t think she has played a lot. When we talk about distractions, it’s really important to note that there has been the Academy Awards, there’s been movies… multi-million dollar businesses that she runs alongside her husband.
"She is also a mum, and they are all distractions. We know this in any sport, but especially in tennis, you have to be so focused and insular, you have to shut everything else out. I think that is going to be hard for her to hone the concentration and be ready to play at her best here.
"The question a lot of us have asked is, 'is this Serena coming to say goodbye?'"
British legend Tim Henman told Insider: “I think it will be difficult [for Williams to win Wimbledon], but when you've got her grass-court pedigree and you've got her success and her ability on these courts, anything's possible.
“But I would put her down as an outsider, not one of the favourites at this stage.”
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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