Serena Williams scheduled to play at 2019 Italian Open in return from knee injury

Just over a month after withdrawing from the Miami Open due to a knee injury, Serena Williams is scheduled to return to the tennis court for the 2019 Italian Open this month, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Tournament director Sergio Palmieri told the AP that he spoke with Williams' agent, Jill Smoller, who said the 23-time Grand Slam winner has "already reserved her rooms and should be (in Rome) a few days early" for the event, which begins May 13.

Williams hasn't played in Rome since 2016, when she defeated Madison Keys to claim her fourth career victory at the annual red clay tourney. She also hasn't finished an event since January's Australian Open, in which she advanced to the quarterfinals, withdrawing from this year's Indian Wells Masters in March because of an illness.

Despite recent absences on the WTA tour, Williams has maintained prominence at some of tennis' biggest events. She advanced to the 2018 Wimbledon finals, her first major final since winning the 2017 Australian Open, and finals of the 2018 US Open, where she infamously lost to Naomi Osaka.

According to the AP, the only top women's player to withdraw from this year's Italian Open is three-time champion, and longtime Williams rival, Maria Sharapova, who is recovering from a shoulder injury.

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