The sight of the All England Club’s manicured lawns proved irresistible to Venus Williams as the multiple Grand Slam champion made an unexpected – and winning – return after nearly a year off the court to play Wimbledon on Friday.
The 42-year-old American, inspired by the sight of younger sister Serena earlier this week, stepped back on the field alongside Jamie Murray in the mixed doubles thanks to a wildcard and promptly booked a spot in the second round.
“I wasn’t going to play. I saw the grass and got excited,” Williams said after she and her British partner took a 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3 win over Alicja Rosolska and Michael Venus .
“I was at the French Open, it’s a beautiful event, but my heart wasn’t beating the same way. Not that I could play, but… I had no plans. That’s why I (Murray) asked at the last minute. “
READ: Wimbledon 2022: Alcaraz storms into fourth round, Sinner tames Isner
Murray is a two-time winner of the mixed doubles event at Wimbledon, but this is a title Williams has never claimed in her storied career.
In addition to her seven grand slam singles titles, Williams won all four grand slam titles in doubles – including six at Wimbledon – and mixed doubles at the Australian Open and French Open.
“It’s one of the few that I haven’t won, so I usually give a bit more priority here,” she said.
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“It was absolutely super last minute. Just inspired by Serena. Like I said, it was amazing. I was just so happy to get so much help today.”
Williams played for the first time since Su-wei Hsieh’s first-round loss at the Chicago Women’s Open last August and recently posted training footage online.
But she remained coy about her plans outside of Wimbledon.
“You never know where I’ll turn up,” she said.
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