Tennis legend Serena Williams’ comeback ahead of Wimbledon has been cut short following an injury to her doubles partner Ons Jabeur. The Tunisian sustained a knee problem before she was scheduled to face Magda Linette and Aleksandra Krunic in the semifinals of Eastbourne alongside the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
Playing together for the very first time, Jabeur and Williams, nicknamed ‘Onsrena’, faced the pair of Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzková and edged an entertaining match 2-6, 6-3, 13-11 on Tuesday. They produced a more convincing performance last night, as they defeated Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching 6-2, 6-4.
Earlier today, Jabeur posted a series of snaps of the pair on court, to which Williams replied: “Hoping you heal fast! #Onsrena forever!” These matches marked the first time Williams played competitively since last year’s Wimbledon, where was forced to retire with an injury just six games into her first round match.
This year, the sporting icon returned after receiving a wild-card entry to play at the All-England Club, which starts on Monday. Speaking after Wednesday’s match, Williams said: “I feel good, as good as one can feel after having such a long time off.
“I was telling Ons, this was a really good match and the second set in particular, they played really well, but we were able to just play different circumstances. It was actually good match play and match practice, which is exactly what I needed and what I wanted to do coming here, so I couldn’t have asked for more.”
It was tough road back to the sport for Williams, who questioned if she would able to compete again. Retirement rumours gathered pace when long-term coach Patrick Mouratoglou started to work with Simona Halep earlier this year but Williams sprung a surprise last week when she announced her return.
“Did I ever doubt I would return? Absolutely, for sure. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn’t and now my body feels great,” she said.
“I definitely felt good out there and I was talking with Ons in the first set saying ‘we’re not playing bad’ because they were just playing really good in that first set.
“But obviously winning, getting more balls and playing a little bit more made us feel a lot better. It definitely felt reassuring. It has been clicking in practice and now it seems like it is clicking. It is doubles but it still means a lot to both of us to be in it.”