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Venus Williams handed wildcard into Australian Open

Venus Williams handed wildcard into Australian Open
© Reuters
Two-time Australian Open finalist Venus Williams confirms her imminent return to Melbourne after being handed a wildcard for the 2023 Grand Slam tournament.

Two-time Australian Open singles finalist Venus Williams will return to Melbourne in January after being handed a wildcard for the 2023 tournament.

The 42-year-old has rarely seen the court over the past couple of years, with her most recent singles match coming in the 2022 US Open, which she also received a wildcard for.

Williams lost in straight sets to Alison van Uytvanck at Flushing Meadows earlier this year, and together with sister Serena Williams, the pair were knocked out by Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic in the first round of the women's doubles.

Venus Williams played just four singles matches in total during the 2022 WTA season, also suffering early exits at the Citi Open, Canadian Open and Cincinnati Masters.

Now ranked 1,007th in the world, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion has not made any hints towards retirement and will compete Down Under next year.

"I am very excited to be returning to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open in January. I've been competing in the country for over 20 years now and the Australian community has always supported me wholeheartedly," the American said in a statement.

Venus Williams in action at Wimbledon in June 2021© Reuters

"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 Williams has two Australian Open singles final appearances to her name in 2003 and 2017, losing both of them to sister Serena, whom she won the doubles with in 2001, 2003, 2009 and 2010.

The 42-year-old's most recent singles victory on the WTA Tour came in the first round of Wimbledon in 2021, beating Mihaela Buzarnescu before bowing out to Ons Jabeur.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley affirmed that he was "delighted" to welcome Venus Williams back to Melbourne and hailed the American as a "role model" for young tennis hopefuls.

"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. We are delighted to welcome her back to the AO in January," Tiley added.

As well as her seven Grand Slam singles titles, Venus Williams has won 14 doubles honours alongside Serena Williams, who announced that she would be "evolving away from tennis" after the US Open and has not played since.

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