At Wimbledon to win, Serena Williams has declared herself miles ahead of schedule as she continues her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles crown.
Williams hasn’t played since being injured in a fall during a first-round mid-match retirement at Wimbledon last year against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Despite turning 41 in September, the living legend insists she never really considered giving the game away during a year-long hiatus while also trying to overcome a torn hamstring.
“I didn’t retire. I just needed to heal physically, mentally and, yeah, I had no plans, to be honest,” Williams said at Wimbledon on Saturday.
“I just didn’t know when I would come back. I didn’t know how I would come back.
“Obviously, Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just kind of worked out.”
The former world No.1, now ranked 1204th, made her comeback in doubles at Eastbourne last week, reaching the quarter-finals before her partner Ons Jabeur pulled out.
The veteran’s return exceeded all her expectations.
“Eastbourne was a good experience,” Williams said.
“I went into this saying, I’d play Eastbourne. I would never be ready for singles, I’ll just kind of play doubles and see how I felt. Definitely probably could have played singles there.
“But the doubles was great. I felt more prepared than I thought I would like a month or two months or three months ago. Way, way more. So it was kind of surprising.”
The 23rd major of Williams’ grand career came when she won the 2017 Australian Open while three months pregnant.
She’s been chasing No.24 to match Margaret Court’s all-time record ever since, losing four more grand slam finals – all in straight sets to Angelique Kerber (2018) and Simona Halep (2019) at Wimbledon and to Naomi Osaka (2018) and Bianca Andreescu (2019) at the US Open.
A ferocious competitor, Williams was taken aback when asked on Saturday what would be a successful 2022 Wimbledon campaign.
“C’mon now,” said the unseeded star.
“You guys know the answer to that, so … I’m not going to answer that.”
Williams will launch her 21st Wimbledon title assault against France’s Harmony Tan on Tuesday and could face last year’s runner Karolina Pliskova in the third round.