Serena Williams to Compete in First Tennis Match Since Giving Birth

Serena Williams. Photo by Zach Hilty/BFA/REX/Shutterstock (8785473ej)

Serena Williams will play an exhibition match against Latvian player and defending French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

This marks her first competition since welcoming her baby girl, Alexis Olympia, in September.  And prior to her daughter’s arrival, Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open in January. She was eight weeks pregnant at the time.

“I am delighted to be returning to the court in Abu Dhabi for the first time since the birth of my daughter in September,” the 36-year-old tennis champ told ESPN in a statement on Sunday. “The Mubadala World Tennis Championship has long marked the beginning of the men’s global tennis season and I am excited and honored to be making my comeback as part of the first women to participate in the event.”

Williams’ rep said in April that the tennis pro would take maternity leave and take time off until 2018. In addition to becoming a mother, she also wed Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November.

According to ESPN, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship is set to be part of Williams’ preparation to defend her Australian Open title.

Earlier this month, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told reporters that Williams was “very likely” to play in the first Grand Slam of 2018, which starts Jan. 15.

“She’s got her visa, she’s entered, she’s practicing and she’s probably just got to find a bit more space for a bigger entourage,” he said, according to E!.