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Wozniacki returning to tennis three years after retiring

AP – Caroline Wozniacki, a former number one-ranked tennis player and the 2018 Australian Open champion, announced on Thursday that she is returning to competition three years after she retired to start a family.

The United States (US) Tennis Association said it will grant Wozniacki a wild-card invitation to participate in the US Open, which begins in New York on August 28.

She also is receiving a wild-card entry for a tournament in Montreal that begins earlier in August, she intends to play in the Australian Open next January and hopes to represent Denmark at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Another aim: She wants to show women that it is possible to combine motherhood with a career.

Wozniacki, who turns 33 in July, has not played an official match since losing to Ons Jabeur in the third round of the Australian Open in January 2020.

Wozniacki revealed a month earlier that her appearance at Melbourne Park would be the last of her career.

Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. PHOTO: AP

She and her husband, former NBA player David Lee, have a two-year-old daughter and an eight-month-old son.

“Over these past three years away from the game I got to make up for lost time with my family, I became a mother and now have two beautiful children I am so grateful for,” she wrote on Thursday on Twitter.

“We decided as a family it’s time. I’m coming back to play and I can’t wait!” she added.

She was number one in the WTA rankings for a total of 71 weeks – first reaching that spot in 2010 – and earned 30 titles, including the first in Grand Slam singles for a player from Denmark when she triumphed in Australia about five-and-a-half years ago.

Wozniacki twice was the runner-up at the US Open, in 2009 to Kim Clijsters and in 2014 to good friend Serena Williams, and reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows three other times.

She announced in October 2018 that she has rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that can cause pain and swelling in the wrist and other joints.

“Am I nervous? Not really. I’m coming back to something I love. Yes, I’ll be nervous before a match; I’m okay with that. I’m great with that. Can I win the US Open? I think so. Can I win the Australian Open? I think so,” Wozniacki wrote in a first-person piece for Vogue magazine posted on Thursday. “That’s why I’m doing this. And I guess we’ll see what happens.”

She wrote about speaking to women “who gave up on their own dreams because they wanted to be with their families, but somewhere deep down they have this yearning to do something they’re passionate about”.

Wozniacki continued: “I want to show those women that maybe there’s a way. It’s certainly not easy to find the right balance – and I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband and supportive parents, and the help of a nanny – but I think it’s possible. I want to prove that to myself and to those women.

“You can have both: You can be thrilled with your family and with everything at home and still have a career – and be great at it.”

WTA Chairman and Chief Executive Steve Simon called Wozniacki “an incredible champion”.

“This is exciting for our sport, for her fans and it’s wonderful to see another great WTA athlete return to the courts after becoming a mother,” Simon said.

The tour said Wozniacki is eligible to compete as of August 1, and is allowed unlimited wild-card entries to tournaments in singles as a past Grand Slam champion.