Serena Williams made her comeback after a year without tennis as the USA legend teamed up with Ons Jabeur in the Eastbourne International doubles on Tuesday. Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, was back in action for the first time since her tearful exit from Wimbledon last year. The 40-year-old suffered a leg injury in her Wimbledon first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich and has not been seen on court since.
Williams and Tunisian Jabeur, third in the WTA singles rankings, faced Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo and Czech Marie Bouzkova.
After such a long absence, Serena was applauded to a raucous reception by the crowd as she entered the pitch in the early evening sun.
Before Williams made the surprise announcement of her impending return last week, retirement rumors had been swirling around her for several months.
But, with Wimbledon starting on June 27, Williams finally resumed her career, playing with Jabeur in the Wimbledon warm-up at the Sussex seaside.
Jabeur, who won the WTA singles title from Berlin over the weekend, admitted on Monday that she didn’t need a “second” to consider teaming up with the American.
“She’s such an inspiration and the fact that we’re playing doubles together, that’s huge news for me and it’s amazing,” she said.
Serena has received a wildcard to play singles at Wimbledon as she revives her historic bid.
Williams is one Grand Slam crown away from equaling Australian Margaret Court’s record 24 major singles titles.
The last of Williams’ 23 Grand Slam singles titles came at the Australian Open in 2017.
Since then, she has lost four Grand Slam finals, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019.
Williams won the seventh and most recent of her seven singles titles at Wimbledon in 2016.
Serena, who became a mother in 2017, dropped to No. 1,204 in the WTA rankings due to her period of inactivity.
Her longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou revealed in April that he had taken on a new role with Simona Halep.
Wimbledon is widely considered Williams’ best chance to win another Grand Slam.
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