Williams started the year in typically dominant fashion, winning her 58th WTA title in Brisbane, but she suffered an injury-hampered loss to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round of the Australian Open and, last week, withdrew from Doha with the bad back. But this week she hinted at her return on Twitter:
And on Thursday, it was announced that Williams has accepted a wildcard into Dubai next week.
"There is no greater player in the world today than Serena Williams, and although she has reached an age when many players would be thinking of retiring, her career is going from strength to strength," Dubai Duty Free's Colm McLoughlin said. "Last year she won an astonishing 34 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak of her career and the second longest of any player this century."
The owner of that longest streak - which was only one more, incidentally, 35 in a row in 2000 - is Venus Williams, and earlier this week it was announced she has also accepted a wildcard into Dubai.
One of the Williams sisters has done much better at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships over the years than the other. Serena Williams' best results are two semifinals, in 2005 and 2009, while Venus Williams' best results are actually two titles, in 2009 and 2010, the last times she played there.