Serena Williams will make her long-awaited return to the WTA Tour on Thursday — marking her first pro tour match since welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia

By Char Adams
March 07, 2018 02:11 PM

Serena Williams has been steadily making her way back to the tennis world in the months since welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia in September — and Thursday will mark the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s long-awaited return to the Women’s Tennis Association Tour.

On Wednesday, she posted an Instagram video of herself looking excited about her return, while also showing off the Serena gold-toned “S” pin she designed for fans to support her and raise money for the Yetunde Price Resource Center, which assists those affected by gun violence and is named in honor of her slain sister.

“It’s official,” Williams captioned the video. “My comeback is here.”

She also noted that her return falls on International Women’s Day, declaring that “my comeback could not have come on a better day.”

On Monday, Williams, 36, and her tennis champ sister Venus, 37, played together in the Tie Break Tens tournament at Madison Square Garden — prompting Venus to praise her little sister: “She’s got power, depth. She knows how to play.”

Now, Williams is set to bring her powerful skills back to pro competition at the Indian Wells BNP Paribas Open, where she is in initially scheduled to take on Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

According to ESPN, Williams has not played an official singles match since winning the 2017 Australian Open last January (which she did while she was about eight weeks pregnant).

After Monday’s event, Williams gushed about returning to the competitive tennis world.

“I had a great time,” she said after that event, according to ESPN. “I feel so lucky to be out here, and I’m ready to play.”

Williams’ return comes a little over a week after husband Alexis Ohanian took out four billboards in Palm Springs, California — near where she will be competing Thursday — congratulating her on her upcoming return to competitive tennis.

The signs all feature baby Olympia and her mom, and state “GREATEST MOMMA OF ALL TIME” in succession, with the last reading, “Serena Williams G.M.O.A.T. — Alexis Jr + Sr.”

“These just went up on alongside I-10 into Palm Springs,” Ohanian, 34, captioned an Instagram photo gallery of the billboards. “@olympiaohanian & I wanted to welcome her back to tennis. Designed them myself, with some help from Jr. #GMOAT

Last month, Williams teamed up with Venus for a Fed Cup doubles match. But the sisters lost in straight sets. Still, the event proved to be a sweet one for Williams, whose husband and daughter were cheering her on from the stands.

Jean Catuffe/Getty

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Williams was expected to return to the Australian Open in January, but eventually withdrew from the competition after playing (and losing) her first post-maternity match — facing off against French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, 20, who defeated her in an exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

“After performing in my first match after giving birth I realized that although I am super close I’m not where I personally want to be,” she wrote in a statement on Snapchat at the time. “My coach and team always said ‘Only go to tournaments when you are prepared to go all the way.’ With that being said I am disappointed to say I’ve decided not to compete in The Australian Open this year.”

RELATED VIDEO: Serena Williams Shares Sweet Snap Of Daughter Wearing A Yellow Dress

Still, she remained hopeful.

“It’s good to be back on the court,” Williams said after the match, ESPN reported. “This was such a good time for me. First matches back are always super-incredibly hard, especially after having a baby. It was great. I was glad I could do it here.”

Last year was a whirlwind for the tennis superstar, who gave birth in September and tied the knot with Ohanian just two months later. Their weddings guests included stars like BeyoncéKelly Rowland and Kim Kardashian West.