Williams has not competed since winning a record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam at the Australian Open last January.
She delivered her first child, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in September and while she had expressed her intention to defend her Melbourne crown next month, the 36-year-old is yet to confirm whether she will be ready for the opening Slam of the season.
Williams’ first appearance in Abu Dhabi comes as an encouraging sign that she might indeed be ready to compete on tour in January.
Here’s how Twitter reacted to news of her MWTC participation…
wta was too easy for her anyway https://t.co/uR1iT7Sbrq
— Shivank (@Shivank17) December 24, 2017
I was like women usually don’t play that tournament…Queen!!! https://t.co/8jnLuIpkVh
— Off Brand Mr. Clean (@SUN_Of_Uhhh) December 24, 2017
YALL THE QUEEN IS COMING. BRACE YOURSELVES. https://t.co/pKNGlYuP9c
— Bence (@hBencee) December 24, 2017
This is the best Christmas gift! https://t.co/IEFycCgQFJ
— SAMANTHA サマンサ (@sbjayne) December 24, 2017
Oh yes!!!! Serena Williams is coming back 💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽💃🏽 https://t.co/1zTvfqBpC1
— R. Angel (@wild__hart) December 24, 2017
Omg 👀👀👀👀👀 https://t.co/r2Ueeql44P
— 62-20 (@Joracle_) December 24, 2017
We get to see her play before the end of 2017?!?!????? https://t.co/oboNKuLgjM
— King Quenchi (@MrQuenchiAdams) December 24, 2017
best christmas gift ever ever https://t.co/FVJIC80Vtv
— kenken (@larssonpie) December 24, 2017
The Queen returns! 😍 https://t.co/katCDptvzS
— katischakalaka (@ktschk) December 24, 2017
Omg no why am I leaving the 28th 😢😢😢😢 https://t.co/rUU3jKqDUA
— Dutch tennis (@tennisdutchies) December 24, 2017
Wake up America….Early Christmas present 😄 https://t.co/pLNnBvI3Bq
— TsuofDB (@BDFoust) December 24, 2017
Wow. Would be curious to know the number on the paycheck. After losing Rafa, I guess emergency action was needed. https://t.co/v98vzbhSeU
— Carole Bouchard (@carole_bouchard) December 24, 2017
Let’s go Serena. It’s about time for a legend to rise again https://t.co/qNB348iHuj
— Andi 🐻 (@GOATrena) December 24, 2017
Wait WHAT!!!!! SHOOKETH https://t.co/9AjcHK5viH
— Pearl (@pearlescent48) December 24, 2017
I AM NOT READY!!! 😭👑❤ https://t.co/8v3K9uv0aB
— Sara (@SaraelisGarvey) December 24, 2017
— Tony (@tjc05) December 24, 2017
Can’t wait to see Serena back in action. The tour is not the same without her. Not even close. Welcome back Queen. @serenawilliams ☺
— WTAAddict (@WTAAddict) December 24, 2017
Serena Williams is set to compete at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi against a yet-to-be confirmed opponent, Sport360 has learned.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion has been away from tour since she won the Australian Open last January and has been on maternity leave since having her first child Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in September.
Williams will play on Saturday December 30 at Zayed Sports City, in what is a massive boost for the tournament and tennis fans in the UAE. Her opponent hasn’t been announced but it is believed she will face a fellow Grand Slam champion.
The Abu Dhabi showpiece, taking place from December 28-30, had witnessed numerous withdrawals with Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic all pulling out in recent days.
The trio were replaced by Roberto Bautista Agut, Kevin Anderson, and Andrey Rublev, respectively.
Ticket holders for day 3 can attend Williams’ match. This is the first time a women’s tennis match will take place at the MWTC.
The tournament is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Tickets for the MWTC are on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae and all Virgin Megastores across the UAE.
Earlier in the day, Spanish daily, Marca, had reported that Nadal was pulling out of the Abu Dhabi showpiece as he continues to recover from a right knee injury that disrupted the tail-end of his 2017 season, forcing him to withdraw from the remainder of the ATP Finals in London after playing the opening match against David Goffin last month.
Before the tournament officially announced the change in the line-up, Spaniard Bautista Agut took to social media to share the news.
Gran noticia para mí poder compartir con vosotros que disputaré el torneo de exhibición de Abu Dhabi. 👏🏼👏🏼 Gran manera de empezar la temporada y deseando que Rafa esté a punto pronto!
— Roberto BautistaAgut (@BautistaAgut) December 22, 2017
“Great news for me to share with you that I will compete in the exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi. A great way to start the season. I hope that Rafa gets well soon!” said Bautista Agut.
Nadal reportedly cancelled a training stint with Portugal’s Joao Sousa at his academy in Mallorca that was meant to take place from December 18-22. According to Marca, the world No. 1 consulted with his doctor in Barcelona last Monday and is in a race against time to be ready for his official 2018 start in Brisbane, which kicks off on December 31.
“I am very sorry and disappointed to announce that I won’t be competing this year at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship,” Nadal said in a statement released by MWTC. ”This would have been my ninth participation in the tournament where I love to play and marking the beginning of my season.
“It was a tough 2017 and I need to take my calendar in a different way in order to be ready. For this reason, I have sadly announced to the organisers and now to you fans that I won’t play this time in Abu Dhabi. I really want to thank them for understanding and I am sending a special warm message to my fans in the UAE and in Abu Dhabi in particular.”
Following the withdrawal of Nadal, as well as Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic, the tournament in Abu Dhabi (December 28-30) will now feature Novak Djokovic, who has already landed in Dubai, Dominic Thiem, Pablo Carreno Busta, Kevin Anderson, Bautista Agut, and Andrey Rublev.