Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams is set to compete at SW19 later this month, and former player and Eurosport expert Barbara Schett has insisted “nobody” will want to play against her.
It was announced on Tuesday that Williams would compete at the third Grand Slam of the year after being given a wild card, and Schett says she was surprised to hear that the 40-year-old would be competing after a year out of the game due to injury.
“I couldn't believe it,” she said. “I was going through my Instagram account, and then suddenly I see the post from Serena Williams.
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"I was like, 'wow, Serena Williams is coming back. She's playing Wimbledon'.
“Nobody thought that she was going to play there because we had a close look at the entry list. She wasn't entered.
“She hasn't played for one year, and now she's decided to take that wild card. It's very exciting, I think for women's tennis, it's very exciting for all of us to be able to watch her. And I think it's exciting times for her. The question is, just how much has she practised?
Williams suffered a first-round injury at Wimbledon last year and hasn’t played since, and despite concerns over her form after a year on the sidelines, Schett insisted players will still want to avoid the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
“I think if you're out for a whole year, it's very difficult because you're not playing any matches. Even if you only practise a lot. It's not the same.
But one thing is for sure, nobody wants to play against Serena Williams. So the other 127 players are going to be scared to draw Serena Williams.
“I think with her game style, she has a big serve. If she has been practising, that will help her a lot. But the matter is, how is her movement going to be on the grass court?
“But we all know that's the hardest area, the hardest surface to actually move [on]. And I think we [will] get a better idea when she plays that first match.
“But I'm sure she's going to be very rusty. Plus, she's 40 years old, which for a tennis player is quite old, unfortunately.”
Williams will make her return to tennis playing doubles at Eastbourne alongside Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in the run-up to Wimbledon, in what Schett believes will be an “honour” for Jabeur.
“I think it's great. I think doubles is always a way to start your journey again after a long break because you only have to cover half of the field.
“You can serve a lot; you can return a lot. You can get used to the matches again. And I was very happy to hear that she's going to play in Eastbourne, teaming up with Ons Jabeur.
“I mean, how exciting is that? And that will help her singles as well. So, I think it's a very smart position from Serena Williams.
"What an honour it is for Ons to play with Serena. And I think it's also an honour for Serena to play with Ons Jabeur.
“She has a big voice on the tour. She had an unbelievable year last year and this year. And I think she's a very fun person as well. So, I think it's a great combination.
“I've actually had a quick chat to Ons about that. And yeah, she said she's absolutely thrilled, and she was so excited when she got the news. And, of course, she's going to say yes."
Williams will take on her return to the court without coach Patrick Mouratoglou after the pair parted ways, with the Frenchman now coaching Simona Halep.
“It sounds like it was a little bit of Serena's decision as well that she's quite happy to travel with her own team.
“I'm not sure who will look after her there. If she has an actual coach or just a hitting partner, I'm sure she's going to travel with an entourage, that's for sure.”

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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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