June 8th, 2011
11:13 AM ET

Will Serena's comeback fail?

Serena Williams proudly shows off her fourth Wimbledon crown but can she win a fifth?
Serena Williams proudly shows off her fourth Wimbledon crown but can she win a fifth?

The news that Serena Williams is to return to action for the first time in nearly a year certainly gives added spice to the build-up to the third grand slam of the year at Wimbledon.

Williams has been sidelined since winning her fourth title at the All England Club since July, not hitting a ball in anger unless you count a money-spinning exhibition match against Kim Clijsters in Belgium in front of a record crowd for a tennis match.

But days before she had stepped on a shard of glass in a restaurant in Germany to set in course a train of events which she will want to banish to the back of her memory bank.

At first it seemed the injury was not too serious, and it did not seem to bother her during the Clijsters' match, but she then skipped the U.S. Open and further complications ruled out any hope of defending her Australian Open crown.

Skeptics still doubted the true extent of her injury as the 29-year-old seemed to be using her "downtime" to be a regular on the celebrity circuit in the States, but in late February they were silenced as Serena was rushed to hospital with a blood clot on her lung, or to use the correct medical term, a pulmonary embolism.

It was as she said later a "scary" moment and led to speculation that she had hit a tennis ball in action for the final time.

The 13-time grand slam winner though is clearly made of sterner stuff and will now return for another crack at Wimbledon glory, starting in the genteel surroundings of Eastbourne on the south coast of England.

But the big question on everyone's lips is can she ever return to her best after an injury requiring two surgeries and a medical condition that can prove fatal?

Modern day tennis requires supreme physical conditioning with any weaknesses ruthlessly exploited, so expect Serena to be given no quarter by opponents with a few scores to settle for the beatings she has handed down over the years.

There are also a new breed of stars to contend with like current world number one Caroline Wozniacki not to mention new French Open champion Li Na and the irrepressible Kim Clijsters who has won two of the last three grand slams while Serena has been sidelined.

Serena will doubtless point to the break she took through 2006 and her triumphant return the following year but that appeared more a question of motivation than battling back after a career-threatening health condition.

She was also much younger and just short of 30 is getting to the veteran stage even for a player of her incredible ability.

Having her sister Venus come back to the fray at the same tournament after a six-month layoff of her own will surely boost her morale and having won Wimbledon nine times between them, not to mention their doubles exploits, the other leading contenders will await their return with keen interest.

But ultimately reputation counts for nothing in the dog-eat-dog world of professional sport and if Serena shows just a whiff of fallibility, either physical or mental, her comeback could be shortlived.

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Filed under:  Tennis
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. ash

    dont count serena out EVER!!! shes a young 30, in her head shes only 25.. serena will continue to win majors.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  2. John

    If clijsters could do it, then there is no doubt in my mind that someone as strong as Serena will be able to!!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  3. Ron

    she is done! I for one hope she retires this year. what a yawn!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  4. alehandro

    Physically Serena would not be coming back if she wasn't ready. She doesn't need to prove anything and obviously her medical care and rehab were the best that money could buy. Age will not be a factor in her return because in comparison to others she has never had what you'd call a punishing schedule, picking and choosing her tournaments to stay fresh for the big ones. So as long as her ailments have left no hidden legacy she should be physically fine. Mentally, she's obviously tough, and, perhaps more importantly, a very rounded person with many other interests besides tennis, so psychological burn-out should not be an issue either – her "tennis" brain has as much gas left in the tank as her body. The other thing is that in her absence nobody else has really picked up the slack and staked a claim to being unbeatable. Wozniaki is a paper number one and has shown no ability or desire to truly dominate. Li Na is a nice story, and no-one's begrudging her the limelight, but she's in the same age bracket as Serena and her "Indian summer" is surely more likely to fade than brighten . Likewise Cliejsters, who's well on the road to a second retirement. And if you look elsewhere in the current top 10, only Azarenka and Kvitova could in any way be viewed as up and comers, and even then it's a stretch. So this is not a great time for women's tennis in terms of overall quality or competitiveness, which means the door is still open for Serena to add to her legend.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Reply
  5. HHH

    Serena is one of the most aggressive and athletic tennis players on the circuit. She and Venus ushered in a new wave of women players to focus on fitness and strength. Its surprising that it took this long (i.e. Martina did it first). This article negates the fact that Serena is techically a better player that her sister and most other women on the tour currently. And one important fact, she knows she can win. Her mental ability is unmatched. There is something to be said about the intimidation factor in tennis overall. Noone wants to play a top seed or a former top seed in an early round, especially if that seed is Serena.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Reply
  6. sageer ıbrahım.

    Serena wıll contınue to wın all of her games

    June 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Reply
  7. Kurt

    @ Ron. You can go to hell. There is nothing on the earth who can tell me you are nothing but a racist. She is the best. Like many others in the sporting arena, we all have our ailment in different stages of our lives. Live you may, sick you will and death you must. So shut the hell and go to the dungeon or hell.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  8. Peter Onu

    Serena Williams I know still have more than 3-4 grand slam titles to add to her record b4 retirement. So Gittings u can confirm this from Mark Mckay, and Pedro Pinto.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Reply
  9. Richard Herbert

    Ron, you need to repent of your seemingly Atheist beliefs and thank The Alymighty Lord for your daily blessings.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  10. Dutch

    Serena would not even consider a comeback if she even remotely suspsects that she might be beaten by a lesser player than her sister in the first round.

    So no, I don't think her comeback will fail.
    If she can't get pas the 4th round....I'm ok with that. Being a huge fan of both Williamses, I'd give some credit for not stretching their bodies to the limit so soon.

    Remember, Serena won the Australian Open when she was ranked 80th in the world. Even today she's not even that low.

    Remember that all the time she was out of the tennis tournaments, she was biting her nails and probably studied their tactics whilst watching the games on tv.

    Give her some credit folks!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  11. mark

    Oh Ron, F off. can these dreadful creatures just comment on artice without getting personal. Ron ..go jump off a bridge

    June 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  12. james

    she good she's too good for the rest,i believe she still in her prime time,no matter what,she will soon regaining her no,1 ranking.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  13. Sam

    Serena has proven repeatedly that she does not have to be 100% fit to win grand slams. She is strong, atheletic, skillful with the toughest fighting spirit one could find. She will be back at the top, she has been doubted before, I have booked my ticket to see her at Wimbledon. Thanks Serena for the joy and class you have brought to the game of tennis.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Reply
  14. misstaces

    Congratulate Serena!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Reply
  15. Former ranked tennis player

    Serena and Venus and Richard Williams have showed the flaws of USTA's (United States Tennis Association's) development of future tennis stars.

    Grass roots tennis development programs that train young players to train with the same dominance and intensity as football athletes, basketball players is the NEW ERA of the next US tennis phenoms.

    Gone are the days of the 100$/hour private lesson, only accessible to those who can afford private clubs or pay hefty tournament entry fees to become ranked number one in the Girls 18s – and FAIL at the pro circuit.

    Train athletes like world class athletes first – and tennis players second – and throw out the USTAs junior ranking heirarchy which forces players in the junior development to focus on develoing their game for a higher ranking within an age group –instead of becoming the BEST THEY CAN BE – a la Serena and Venys ( thank you, Richard, for sharing that grass roots development philosophy to enlighten the tennis powers of their faulty scheme).

    So, don't ask if Serena will dominate – ask Richard – ask the history books – look at her past results....and the obstacles they overcame to get there...and you have your answer.

    If CNN wants a real article, they should write on the next generation of "grass root tennis players" – playing outside the USTA structure – and why it has entrenched competitive failure among anelite few – instead of inspiring young players with a new ranking format to reward players for developing their game first and their "hero status for an age group ranking" second.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Reply
  16. Roz

    I don't even appreciate the title of your blog. "Fail?" Serena is a winner the moment she steps foot onto the court after all that's she's been through this past year. She's a 13 time Grand Slam Champion and an Olympic, Gold Medal Winner! So to answer your dumb azz question, "will she fail?"

    NO SHE WILL NOT! So just stay tuned!

    June 9, 2011 at 12:32 am | Reply
  17. Ephrem Johnson

    Ya know it's really sad that some people feel the need to bash others for no aparent reason. This guy RON a few spaces up is who I'm refering to. To say "She's done" "he hope's she retires" " she should shut the hell up thanking her god Jehovah" it's really sad. If a person dosen't believe in god that's his belief...He needs to quit trying to make other people believe what he want's them to believe. What reason could you possibly have Ron for what you say about someone you know nothing about. Unless there's someone that you like in tennis that Serena beats the pants off all the time...(smile)

    June 9, 2011 at 1:33 am | Reply
  18. Tim

    Serena is an inspiration to many all over the world. Here in Kenya she has shown her best by supporting charity- a girls school. All the best Serena. God go with you!

    June 9, 2011 at 6:25 am | Reply
  19. jean-marc

    I guess it depends on what constitutes a "failed" comeback. Does she need to win at Wimbledon for it to be considered a successful comeback? If so, that might be a tall ask, even if it's not impossible. She is a professional player and wouldn't come back if she didn't feel able to compete at that level. Whether she wins or not, it will be good to have her back on the court and see how she fares against the current leading players on tour. Love her or hate her, her stats tell us she is already one of the legends of the game. Welcome back!

    June 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  20. Tuckyjoe

    Serena will definitely do well at Wimbledon. They love playing on the grass and especially in England. I believe they are even more welcome in England than in the US - they recognized that and hence would want to pay the British fans back. Have they ever missed Wimbledon in their career?

    June 10, 2011 at 3:59 am | Reply
  21. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    Wishing Serena Williams all the very best in her come-back efforts.

    June 10, 2011 at 6:30 am | Reply
  22. jorgen friis

    why should Serena fail in her come-back? she has the talent, she has the brains and brawns. I donot see who can challenge her. Certainly none of the top 3 or even top 10 women seem to have what it takes to become number one and stay number one over a sustained period. It is my view the only thing that can derail Serena's quest for a successful come-back is her health. I wish her all the best.

    June 12, 2011 at 10:29 am | Reply
  23. hellen

    always the propaganda for the media when it comes to williams sisters why?she will not fail God will prove those who want them to fail.

    June 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Reply
  24. VIOLET CHOONGA

    NEVER NVER COUNT SERINA OUT. SHE IS A FIGHTING BULL, YOU GO DOWN, YOU GO WITH HER, IF SHE GOES DOWN SHE IS GOING DOWN WITH YOU. THATS WHAT SHE IS-- WOONDED BULL. THATS A GOOD AFRICAN EXPLESION- SERINA WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON THE COURT> SHE WILL RATHER DIE THERE GO GO GO SERINA
    MY LOVELY WOODNDED BULL>

    June 13, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Reply
  25. Tim

    Merit, energy, tenacity, emotion, fashion......! You bring joy to playing and watching tennis. Come back, win and stay, Serena.

    June 14, 2011 at 7:38 am | Reply
  26. Chang pyo Park

    I belive that Serena Williams is a successful comback.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:03 am | Reply
  27. ojih williams

    serena come back is a welcome development for women tennis because she happens to be the best female tennis player

    June 15, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Reply
  28. mf

    she is the lady in control ,mind u , she is the winner.

    June 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Reply
  29. Uche

    I believe in and she is back to remain in her postion as world number one. Yes she can make it to the top

    July 23, 2011 at 7:45 am | Reply

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