Serena Williams will make an emotional appearance with sister Venus at the US Open after the pair were awarded a wild card to play in the doubles together at Flushing Meadows.
The US Open is expected to be the final tournament of Serena’s legendary career, and the wild card gives her two shots at success.
For the ninth time in their careers, the sisters will play doubles as a pair in New York, where they lifted the trophy together in 1999 and 2009.
The Williams sisters have a remarkable record of winning all 14 of the Grand Slam doubles finals they have contested but the last one was back in 2016 at Wimbledon, and they have not played a slam together since the French Open four years ago where they made it through to the last 16.
They last played doubles at the US Open in 2014 and this is likely to be their final appearance together with Serena saying that she is “evolving away from tennis”.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion’s farewell will dominate the tournament for as long as she is in it, and Venus is also set to compete in the singles tournament.
Now ranked 608th in the world, Serena will play Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the first round, while seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams will face Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck.
Two-time single champion Osaka admits she’s low in confidence
There are 15 current or former Grand Slam champions in the women’s draw, including two-time US Open winner Naomi Osaka.
It has been a tough 12 months for the 24-year-old, who did not compete after the US Open last year as she prioritised her mental health and has struggled with form and fitness this season.
A troublesome Achilles problem kept her out of Wimbledon and she retired during her first-round match in Toronto two weeks ago with a back issue.
Osaka has won just one match since April, and she admitted she goes into the US Open with her confidence low.
Now ranked down at 44, Osaka is unseeded and will take on Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins in the first round on Tuesday.
She told a press conference in New York: “I feel like I would have lied a day ago or so and said that I was really relaxed. But actually, when I practised today, I felt very anxious. I think it’s because I really want to do well because I feel I haven’t been doing well lately.
“It’s tough. Of course, you don’t want to lose in the first round of a slam. I feel like I always do pretty well here. It’s kind of taking the pressure off of myself, but it’s always going to be there.
“I think the opponent I’m going to play is also really tough, so it adds a little bit extra. I’m just trying to enjoy the time that I have here.”