Venus Williams has been awarded a wild card entry to play at the Australian Open next month, 25 years after she played the Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
The 42-year-old Williams has reached the final twice in Australia, including a loss to her younger sister, Serena, in the 2017 championship match. She will be contesting the season-opening major for the 22nd time.
“I am very excited to be returning to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open in January,” the seven-time major winner said in a statement.
“I’ve been competing in the country for over 20 years now and the Australian community has always supported me wholeheartedly.
“It will be an honour to play for the fans again and I’m looking forward to making more memories at the tournament this year.”
Venus and Serena Williams combined to win the Australian Open women’s doubles title four times and Venus also won the mixed doubles title in 1998 with fellow American Justin Gimelstob.
Serena Williams will not be contesting the January 16-29 tournament at Melbourne Park after announcing at the US Open that she was ready to evolve away from tennis.
“Venus is not just an incredible player and fan favourite, she’s a great role model and leader in our sport in so many ways,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.
“We are delighted to welcome her back to the AO in January.”
Williams, who has played only four matches in 2022, joins a women’s draw with 12 major champions.