Seven-time major champion and former No.1 Venus Williams has been awarded a main-draw wild card for the 2023 Australian Open. The tournament begins on Jan. 16 at Melbourne Park.
A two-time finalist, Williams, 42, is set to make her 22nd appearance at the Australian Open, having made her tournament debut 25 years ago in 1998.
“I am very excited to be returning to Melbourne to compete at the Australian Open in January,” Williams said.
“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 honor to play for the fans again and I’m looking forward to making more memories at the tournament this year.”
Williams played just four tournaments in 2022 and will return to Melbourne for the first time since a second-round exit in 2021.
“Venus is not just an incredible player and fan favorite, 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 will make her season debut two weeks prior to the Australian Open, as she's also accepted a wild card to the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand in the season's first week.
OFFICIAL: The stars have aligned for Kiwi tennis fans, as seven-time Grand Slam winner @Venuseswilliams is confirmed as a wildcard entrant for the ASB Classic.#ASBClassic #Tennis pic.twitter.com/aVT0uuQsJo— ASB Classic (@ASB_Classic) December 20, 2022
A longtime favorite in Auckland, Williams returns to the tournament for the first time since 2019. She won the title in 2015, beating Caroline Wozniacki in the final, and was also runner-up to Ana Ivanovic in 2014.
She reached the quarterfinals in her last appearance, falling to eventual finalist Bianca Andreescu.