Serena Williams to return after nearly a year

Will defend her title at Wimbledon June 20

LONDON (AP) - Serena Williams is returning to the tour after nearly a year off because of various health issues.

Williams will begin her comeback at a grass-court tournament in Eastbourne, England next week. She then will defend her title at Wimbledon, which begins June 20.

Williams has not played an official match since winning her 13th Grand Slam title at the All England Club last July.

A few days after that victory, Williams cut her foot on glass at a restaurant. She wound up having two operations because of that and later was treated for a blood clot in her lung.

"I am so excited to be healthy enough to compete again," Williams said in a statement released by her agent. "These past 12 months have been extremely tough and character building. I have so much to be grateful for. I'm thankful to my family, friends, and fans for all of their support. Serena's back!"

Shortly after winning her fourth Wimbledon singles championship last summer, Williams hurt her foot while in Germany. She played in an exhibition match in Belgium against Kim Clijsters days later. But when she returned to the United States she had the first of two operations for her injury. The second surgery was in October, and she said she spent 10 weeks in a cast and 10 weeks in a walking boot.

The 29-year-old American was diagnosed in February with blood clots in her lung. After that, she said she needed treatment for a hematoma - a gathering of blood under the skin - on her stomach.

She returned to practice in April, an event she announced via Twitter, posting a picture of herself on court in a pink bodysuit.