World no. 1 Serena Williams has accepted a wildcard into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week.
It’s a positive sign for the 32-year-old’s recovery from the back injury sustained during the Australian Open which caused Williams to withdraw from the Qatar Total Open in Doha last week and bolsters her schedule ahead of the Indian Wells-Miami double. Williams, despite saying she might consider competing at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, has declined to return to the tournament where she last competed in 2001 which means that her next tournament would be Miami in late March.
‘There is no greater player in the world today than Serena Williams, and although she has now reached an age when many players would be thinking of retiring her career is still going from strength to strength,’ said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. ‘Last year she won an astonishing 34 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak of her career and the second longest of any player this century.’
Williams has played in Dubai three times but never captured the title. She reached the semi-finals in 2005 and 2009 and was in the draw last year, but gave a walkover to her second-round opponent after a first-round bye.
Williams joins her sister, Venus, who has also accepted a wildcard into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships where she has lifted the trophy twice in five attempts. ‘Venus Williams is one of the greatest players of this century and it is with great pleasure that we welcome her back to Dubai,’ said McLoughlin.
The Premier tournament, which has been a combined ATP/WTA event since 2001, offered Williams the wildcard to boost an already impressive line-up which features world no. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, defending champion and world no. 6 Petra Kvitova and top-ten players Sara Errani, Jelena Jankovic, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep as well as Ana Ivanovic, Caroline Wozniacki and Samantha Stosur.
‘Serena will join a tournament that is one of the strongest outside of the Grand Slams,’ said tournament director Salah Tahlak.