Serena Williams will play in the French Open, her coach said Monday.
The tournament, which starts May 27, will be the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s first major since returning to the tour from maternity leave.
“Serena will play the French Open to win it,” coach Patrick Mouratoglou told the WTA tour’s website
Williams, 36, returned to the tour briefly this year, after a 14-month absence to give birth to her daughter. But she withdrew from last week’s Madrid Open and this week’s Italian Open.
Mouratoglou said that when Williams arrived to train with him in France late last month, “We realized that she was not ready yet. The time she lost after the delivery with all the medical issues she had to go through, was missing.”
Mouratoglou added, “That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome as she needed five weeks to be perfectly ready.
“I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros.”
The three-time French Open champion has not played since March, when she lost a first-round match against Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open.
Roberta Vinci, whose semifinal victory against Serena Williams in the 2015 U.S. Open prevented Williams from completing a calendar-year Grand Slam, said that she was retiring.
Vinci, who retired after a first-round loss to Aleksandra Krunic before her home fans at the Italian Open in Rome, is best known for the victory over Williams but also was ranked No. 1 in doubles, completed a career Grand Slam with partner Sara Errani and helped Italy win four Fed Cups.
“It’s not only Serena,” Vinci said. “I would appreciate it if I were remembered for a bit more of my entire career.” Yet Vinci, 35, acknowledged she still looks back at that match against Williams and wonders how she managed it.
A day later, Vinci lost to Flavia Pennetta in an all-Italian final.
Novak Djokovic was not looking too far ahead after a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first round of the Italian Open.
After failing to reach the quarterfinals in six consecutive tournaments following a right elbow injury, the 12-time Grand Slam winner doesn’t want to place too much pressure on himself — even though he is a four-time Rome champion.
Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a former Australian Open runner-up, has withdrawn from the French Open because of a left knee injury.