MELBOURNE, Australia -- Venus Williams has been awarded a wild-card entry to play at the Australian Open next month, 25 years after she played the Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
The 42-year-old Williams has reached the final twice in Australia, including a loss to her younger sister, Serena, in the 2017 championship match. She will be contesting the season-opening major for the 22nd time.
"I've been competing in the country for over 20 years now and the Australian community has always supported me wholeheartedly,'' the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion said in a statement. "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 is currently ranked outside the top 1,000 and has not played a competitive match since the 2022 US Open. She lost in the first round in singles to unseeded Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium and then paired with Serena for the doubles competition as a wild-card entry. The sisters lost 7-6 (5), 6-4 to the Czech duo of Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in the first round.
While Serena in August had announced her plans to "evolve" away from tennis to focus on off-the-court interests and ventures -- and was given a star-studded farewell at the US Open -- the elder Williams sister publicly revealed no such plans.
"Right now I'm just focused on the doubles," Venus told reporters following her first-round singles match at Flushing Meadows when asked about her future in the sport.
Venus and Serena combined to win the Australian Open women's doubles title four times and Venus also won the mixed doubles title in 1998 with fellow American Justin Gimelstob. She owns a career 54-21 singles record at the Australian Open.
Information from The Associated Press, Reuters and ESPN's D'Arcy Maine was included in this report.