Serena Williams returned from maternity leave in February, only to pull out of the French Open due to an injury. No one was sure if she’d compete in Wimbledon 2018, but Williams is indeed back — and her return marks 20 years since her very first Wimbledon competition.
The new mom has seven Wimbledon titles and has won a total of 23 overall Grand Slam singles championships. When asked by the press if she expected to be back on the same courts two decades later for Wimbledon 2018, Williams said “absolutely not.”
“When you’re so young, you just think about, ‘This is great, I’m going to be here, everyone retires at 26, 27, 28, maybe 30,'” she said.
“[But] … things have changed,” Williams continued. “I think technology really plays a big part in that, education, people knowing how to feed their body, take care of their body, make their body better and greater for a longer period of time. We see athletes across all sports playing a lot longer.”
Williams, 36, brought her daughter Olympia with her to Wimbledon 2018.
“Yes Olympia, your dreams can come true too,” she told the 10-month-old on the courts last week, explaining all about her own journey from Compton to that very first Wimbledon match 20 years ago.
“I got a little emotional when I was telling her a story about a girl who had a big dream,” Williams said. “I started getting choked up.”
“Yes Olympia, your dreams can come true too”
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) June 25, 2018
When is Serena Williams’ first match of Wimbledon 2018?
Williams’ first match of Wimbledon 2018 was today, July 2, against 27-year-old Arantxa Rus. Rus is ranked 105th in the world; Williams, 183th.
Williams beat Rus 7-5, 6-3 to progress to the second round.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 2, 2018
Williams is seeded 25th in the singles draw, and The New York Times explains that this sets her up for a tough competition. “Seeds from 25th to 32nd are drawn to face one of the top eight seeds in the third round,” the Times reports.
“I think I would be very ungrateful if I sat here and said it was too low, to be honest,” Williams said of her seeding. “In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. I came in here expecting that maybe I wouldn’t get a seed.”
Regardless, she’s ready to compete.
“I don’t think I ever actually lost that competitive side,” Williams said at a news conference Sunday. “… I feel like it’s stronger, because I’ve been through so much.”
For how to live stream Wimbledon, click through to Metro’s guide.