Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki returns to tennis, three years after retiring – and believes she can claim glory at the 2023 US Open.
The Dane won the 2018 Australian Open among 30 WTA Tour-level titles and spent 71 weeks atop the rankings.
The 32-year-old retired in January 2020 but is now planning to return after giving birth to her two children.
“I’m too competitive to show up and not feel like I’m going to be one of the best players,” she said.
In an interview with Vogue, Wozniacki said she wanted to play the Canadian Open in Montreal in August, before heading to the US Open, where she reached the final in 2009 and 2014.
Shortly after Wozniacki’s announcement, the US Open said Wozniacki has already received a wildcard for the event, which begins August 28.
She will also aim to compete at the Australian Open and the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“Am I nervous? Not really,” Wozniacki said. “I’m going back to something I love.
“Can I win the US Open? I think so. Can I win the Australian Open? I think so. That’s why I do this. And I guess we’ll see what happens.
“If I didn’t believe in myself, I wouldn’t be doing this: I’m too competitive to show up and not feel like I’m going to be one of the best players. »
“Serena paved the way for so many of us”
Wozniacki was inspired by 23-time Grand Slam singles winner Serena Williams, who gave birth to daughter Olympia in September 2017 and then returned to competition.
Williams, whom Wozniacki considers a close friend, went on to reach the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2018 and 2019.
“Séréna (Williams) and I had dinner a few weeks ago,” Wozniacki told Vogue.
“When I told her my plan, she just said, ‘Wow, good for you. I’ll cheer you on every step of the way, and if you ever need anything, I’m here. She has always been there for me.
“Serena doesn’t have enough credit to have made so many Grand Slam finals after having Olympia. »
Wozniacki said seeing Williams retire at last year’s US Open was “bittersweet” because of the American’s influence over her 25-year career at the top level.
“She paved the way for so many of us — she showed us that anything is possible,” Wozniacki said.
“I want to show my children that you can follow your dreams”
Wozniacki, who is married to former NBA basketball player David Lee, announced the birth of daughter Olivia in June 2021 and son James in October 2022.
“I became a mother and now have two beautiful children for whom I am very grateful,” Wozniacki wrote on Twitter.
“But I still have goals that I want to accomplish. We decided as a family that it was time. I’m coming back to play and I can’t wait.
“I want to show my kids that you can chase your dreams, no matter your age or role. »
She added: “How long can I play at my highest level – one year, two years, three years? I don’t know. But I know that in five years, when the children are in school, it will be too late. »
During the first stage of her career, Wozniacki peaked when she defeated Simona Halep in straight sets in the 2018 Australian Open final.
At Wimbledon, she reached the round of 16 six times, but lost to this stage each time.
Wozniacki hopes to inspire other parents
Wozniacki’s professional debut came eight days after her 15th birthday as an unranked wild card at an event in Cincinnati in July 2005. Now she hopes to inspire more women to return to their playing careers after giving birth.
She spoke of having had discussions with women “who gave up on their own dreams” but still yearned to revisit past glories.
That’s her mission, and Wozniacki pointed out how she’s in a more privileged position than most.
“It’s definitely not easy to find the right balance, and I’m so lucky to have a supportive husband and parents, and the help of a nanny, but I think it’s possible. “, she said. “I want to prove it to myself and to these women. You can have both: you can be delighted with your family and everything at home and still have a career – and be great at it. »
Wozniacki explained that tennis men are usually lucky not to have to choose between starting a family and staying on tour.
“You had Roger (Federer), who had four children while playing. Novak (Djokovic) has two, and Rafa (Nadal) has one child; (Andy) Murray has four,” Wozniacki said.
“For women, though, it’s mostly one or the other, and I’d like to be part of the change. Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters and Serena have already shown what it takes to have a child and return to the tour. ”