Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki is making her return to professional tennis three years after retiring, she announced Thursday.
In a first-person essay for Vogue, the 32-year-old said she began hitting again following the birth of her second child in October, and she realized how much she missed playing. Her father and longtime coach Piotr Wozniacki told her as she was practicing that she looked like she was “enjoying it more,” she said.
“That was exactly how I felt: I was relaxed and having fun, and somehow that let me see everything more clearly,” Wozniacki said.
She aims to return ahead of the US Open, where she’s been a finalist twice. She plans to play in the Canadian Open in Montreal in August “just to get back into the groove” and then to take the court in Flushing Meadows later that month.
“After that, I’ll have a couple of months to prepare for Australia, and we’ll take it from there,” she said. “The Paris Olympics are definitely a goal too.
“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. That’s why I’m doing this. And I guess we’ll see what happens.”
The 2018 Australian Open winner retired after the 2020 edition of the same tournament. At the time of her retirement, Wozniacki said that she had achieved “almost everything I’d ever set out to do.”
Since then, Wozniacki has given birth to a daughter and a son. When she returns, she’ll join an elite and growing group of mothers competing on the WTA Tour, including Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina and Taylor Townsend. Fellow former No. 1 players Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka both are expected to return from maternity leave next year.
Wozniacki told Serena Williams about her plans a few weeks ago, she said, and Williams expressed her support. Williams, who retired after the 2022 US Open, is currently pregnant with her second child.
“I think that Serena doesn’t get nearly enough credit for getting to so many Grand Slam finals after having Olympia,” Wozniacki said. “Her retirement will always be bittersweet, both for me and for so many other players, because she’s meant so much to women’s tennis. She paved the way for so many of us—she showed us that anything is possible.”
Admittedly, Wozniacki doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to play at her highest level. In 2018, Wozniacki announced her diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis. While at the time she said it didn’t play into her retirement, she tells Vogue about the pain she experienced as a result of the disease.
The time off has been good, however, and she notes that everything is “so far, so good.”
“The long break seems to have done wonders in terms of recovery, and mentally, I’m fresh,” she said. “I’m not putting as much pressure on myself, but at the same time I know when I’m out there, I’m going to be fighting.”