Serena Williams slams back into action with big win
Eastbourne, UK - 23-time Grand Slam Champion Serena Williams won her first match as part of her tennis comeback at the 2022 Eastbourne Invitational.
After an injury caused her to withdraw from 2021's Wimbledon and take a year hiatus from the tennis court, the 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is back in action - and victorious.
On Tuesday, Williams provided answers to any comeback doubt with an epic win alongside doubles partner Ons Jabeur, in a first-round doubles match against Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova at the 2022 Eastbourne International.
While Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova seized and rushed out to an early lead, Williams showed early signs of rust and unfamiliarity with partner Jabeur. The first set shakily began as if Williams and Jabeur's eagerly anticipated run in Eastbourne would be a short one.
Nonetheless, both Williams, and Jabeur were ready to serve all they had. Williams' movement got sharper, her ball-striking became crisper, and her confidence and trademark intensity surged with every won-point. By the end of the second set, Williams ran down each ball like "vintage" Serena.
"I caught some fire behind me," Williams said in a post-match interview. "I needed that."
Serena picks Jabeur as partner for Eastbourne
Last week, it was revealed that Williams received a wild card to play at the upcoming 2022 Wimbledon, and would also be playing in the doubles draw at Eastbourne.
Williams handpicked Jabeur to be her partner - something the athlete called an honor.
"It was so much fun," Jabeur said in a post match interview.
"I was a little bit nervous before, playing with such a legend, but she made me really good on the court. Even when I made mistakes, she kept encouraging me, so thank you [Serena] for that."
Jabeur, who rose to a career-high ranking of No. 3 this week after winning a title in Berlin, is a tennis pioneer for players of her home country Tunisia and other Arab and African countries. Already the highest-ranked Arab player of all time, Jabeur is now tied for the highest-ranked African player in history.
The duo will next face Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching on Wednesday for a spot in the semifinals. When asked if she and Jabeur would be playing as doubles partners at Wimbledon, Williams responded, "A day at a time. A day at a time."
Cover photo: GLYN KIRK / AFP