Updated: Jun 23, 2022
By Amy Cranston
The tennis world is abuzz with anticipation as players and fans alike get ready for the 2022 Wimbledon Championships. Since 1877, top players have battled it out on the outdoor grass courts of the All England Club. This year's championships are the second annual return of the long-standing tradition since its brief cancellation in 2020 and will be held from June 27 to July 10.
The event isn't the only return happening. Serena Williams has just been announced as a surprise wild-card entry into this year’s tournament. Counting seven Wimbledon titles and 23 Grand Slam championships, Williams has been ranked the singles world #1 by the Women's Tennis Association for 319 weeks.
As a legend in the field, her Wimbledon announcement has taken the world by storm. The question instead is, is Wimbledon ready for her comeback?
Prioritizing her health
Serena Williams had to withdraw from tennis after injuring her right leg when she slipped on Wimbledon’s Center Court grass. This was during the first set of her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, at Wimbledon in late June 2021.
The torn hamstring needed time to recover and Williams was unable to return to the U.S. Open last August 2021, citing the need to heal completely as advised by her medical team. Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams’s coach, noted that she did everything she could but that the risk of a permanent long-term injury was too great. For that reason, Williams opted out of the 2022 Australian Open as well.
Williams wasn’t doing anything during that period, however, like other athletes, she had to see physical therapists in order to mitigate any sudden hamstring strain or relapses during her road to recovery. The tennis star has worked her way back up and was seen on Instagram in October 2021 practicing her strokes despite restricted movement.
Working on herself
While never too far from tennis, Williams has been dabbling in business during her break. Always chasing after success, the female legend invested a seven-figure sum into sports marketing technology startup OpenSponsorship (OS), which invited her to join investors such as David Blitzer who is already onboard.
OS signs athletes to work directly with brands and sports marketing analysts on certain campaigns. As the industry continues its widespread digitalization, sports marketing analysts play increasingly crucial roles in modern sports with the sports technology market size expected to grow to $24.56 billion by 2026. This sustains the sports industry while keeping the activity entertaining and beneficial for both athletes and sports fans, which bodes well for Williams' investment.
Williams’ time off the court has certainly been fruitful for her and the industry. However, it remains to be seen whether this is enough for her to snatch back the Wimbledon crown.
Winning the game
With Williams hitting 40 years of age and coming from a year-long layoff, fans are skeptical of her chances. She has nothing to prove when it comes to her legacy. However, Wimbledon would be considered her best chance of claiming a 24th Grand Slam singles crown to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Listed at +1500, FOX Bet has Williams as the sixth-best odds to win Wimbledon. At +2300, FanDuel offers long odds a 23-1. This is a reasonable prediction considering her sabbatical, which was long enough for fans to have questioned the possibilities of retirement. However, Williams could prove them wrong if she makes it all the way to Centre Court.
Sleepers have won this event with some frequency — Sofia Kenin with 66-1 odds in 2020 and Angelique Kerber at +3300 in 2016. Whether or not the same could be said for Serena Williams, we can bet that fans around the world are excited to see her on the court again.
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