A year after she withdrew from the Australian Open in the wake of her first pregnancy, Serena Williams is confirmed as an entrant in the 2019 tournament, the Open announced on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old tennis star, who is currently ranked No. 16 among women, was named one of the top 102 in her sport and has since committed to competing in January’s Melbourne event, the first of four annual Grand Slam tourneys.
A 23-time Grand Slam winner, Williams is no stranger to the Australian Open. She first won it against her older sister, Venus, back in 2003, and has added six other Open victories since then. Her latest women’s singles title — again against Venus — came in 2017, when she was eight weeks pregnant with her daughter, Alexis.
Williams backed out of the 2018 Australian Open, however, due to insufficient preparation time after her pregnancy. Alexis was born in September 2017, but Williams was bedridden for six weeks as a result of complications, only returning to the court for a December exhibition at the World Tennis Championship before making her full comeback in February 2018.
Williams’ return to Melbourne will mark somewhat of a fresh start for the longtime standout after a polarizing 2018 season. She was, but that honor came just two months after a in which Williams lost to Naomi Osaka and criticized umpire Carlos Ramos as a “thief.” Before the Open, Serena’s year had been headlined by her return to full-time tennis, with the veteran appearing at the French Open and Wimbledon.