Serena Williams made her doubles return to competition almost a year after she retired with a leg injury at Wimbledon on Tuesday at the Eastbourne grass court tournament, where she qualified for the second turn.
“Oh my God, it was so much fun playing with Ons, and it was great! said the 40-year-old American with a big smile after winning alongside Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur (World No. 3) against Czech Marie Bouzkova and Spain’s Sara Sorribes 2- 6, 6-3, 13/11.
Falling to 1,204th place in the WTA, the player with 23 Grand Slam singles titles announced her return on social networks last week.
The doubles at Eastbourne should allow her to regain some rhythm before lining up in singles next week at Wimbledon, where she has been crowned seven times, thanks to a wild card.
“Did I doubt I could come back? Yes of course. I wouldn’t be honest if I said I didn’t think about it. And now I feel physically very good, ”acknowledged the American after the match.
Williams did not want to say how long she still sees herself playing, she who is still chasing Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam titles: “I take things day by day. I took my time after my hamstring injury, so I’m not going to make a lot of decisions now.”
“At the beginning, I spent a lot of time without training and after not being able to play in New York I was in lack of work. I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn’t be here, but I also love what I do off the court,” she added.
After a quickly lost first set, Williams and Jabeur “tried to hold on”. “I ended up finding the flame a little and I needed it. But they played so well in the first set! exclaimed the American, visibly relieved.
If she is not quite sharp yet and sometimes lacks speed in her movements, Williams has lost none of her intensity and power.
Over the course of the match, the agreement with Jabeur was refined and Serena Williams found her bearings, allowing her to drop some magnificent shots.
By finishing the round with an ace in the middle, she gave the public a super twisted tie-break in which she was once again the driving force of her team.
Williams and Jabeur first missed two match points then dismissed one of their opponents before concluding in the third in 1h 24 minutes.
In the quarter-finals, they will face the pair made up of the Japanese Shuko Aoyama, 10th in the world in doubles, and the Taiwanese Ho-Ching Chan, 49th.