The most famous siblings in tennis will be represented in the Australian Open draw yet again after Venus Williams was awarded a wildcard into the season’s first grand slam in Melbourne.
A year after neither Venus nor Serena Williams contested the Open for the first time in a quarter of a century, Tennis Australia on Monday announced 42-year-old Venus would be back next month for a 22nd time.
“I am very excited to be returning to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open in January,” Williams said in a statement released by Tennis Australia. “I’ve been competing in the country for over 20 years now and the Australian community has always supported me wholeheartedly.
“It will be an honour to play for the fans again and I’m looking forward to making more memories at the tournament this year.”
The AO is the biggest major title to elude the seven-time grand slam champion, who made her first Melbourne appearance as a 16-year-old in 1997. She lost the 2003 final to her sister, and last reached the decider in 2017, losing again to Serena, who was three-months pregnant.
Serena won’t be back after announcing she would “evolve away” from tennis following her US Open loss to Australian No 1 Ajla Tomljanovic in September. But tournament director Craig Tiley said he was delighted to welcome back Venus, who holds a 54-21 win-loss record in Melbourne, having reached at least the quarter-finals nine times.
“Venus is not just an incredible player and fan favourite, she’s a great role model and leader in our sport in so many ways,” Tiley said. “We are delighted to welcome her back to the AO in January.”
Williams joins an incredible women’s field featuring 12 major champions and an unusually high main-draw entry ranking cut-off of world No 95. The 2023 Australian Open runs from 16 to 29 January.