LONDON, May 5 (Reuters) - Five-times Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will warm up for the grasscourt slam on the lawns of Eastbourne this year as she departs from her usual routine.
Eastbourne tournament organisers said on Thursday the American would play the event for the first time since 1998 in a field boasting five of the world's top 10 women.
The 30-year-old has been out of action with a hip injury since reaching the Australian Open third round at the start of the year.
Both Venus and sister Serena, still absent from the tour with a foot injury and suffering from a pulmonary embolism, have preferred to prepare for Wimbledon in previous years by practising on fast hardcourts in the U.S.
It is a tried and tested formula that has worked well with the sisters bagging nine Wimbledon singles titles between them in the past 11 years.
There is still no news on when 13-times grand slam champion Serena will return to action, although the chances of her trying to defend her Wimbledon title are dwindling.
The Eastbourne tournament, down on England's sedate south coast, has a strong field this year with Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva of Russia, Italy's French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, China's Li Na and Australian Samantha Stosur all signed up to compete.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Pritha Sarkar; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)
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