It would obviously be premature and foolish to draw the slightest conclusion from the doubles match, won in a fight, at the end of the day, by Serena Williams and her one-day friend, Ons Jabeur, Tuesday in Eastbourne against the Hispano-Czech pair , Sara Sorribes Tormo – Marie Bouzkova (2-6, 6-3, 13-11). What is certain, however, is that these two ladies, reunited on a phone call from the American to the Tunisian a few weeks ago, had a lot of fun on the court. In the hard first, then in the fight then, until this success which made Serena Williams clench her fist, who has yet seen so many others.
But here it is, the American marked her return to competition here after almost a year of absence and a tearful exit from Center Court at Wimbledon, on June 29, 2021, on a tear in the right hamstring against Aliaksandra Sasnovich . So, even if she knows that this success is not prestigious, Serena Williams was simply happy to have fought and to have won. “It was so nice to play this match. With Ons, we had a lot of fun »she commented soberly on the court at the exit.
Of course, the former boss of the circuit knows well that at 40, this comeback, her last, is the greatest challenge of her career. Now relegated to 1204th place in the world, at a time in her career when the ranking, like Roger Federer (96th), means absolutely nothing, the American is well aware that the path has never been so long and the time so short. “I think it will be difficult, even super difficult for her, no matter what type of player she is”also predicted the world No. 7, Karolina Pliskova, without pretense.
Serena Williams in a big way in the second set
This is perhaps also why the American took great care and took her time to come back. After running in vain behind Margaret Court and a 24th Grand Slam title all these last years, the former world No. 1 with 73 trophies on the circuit, found the game on Tuesday, the cheers of the crowd, the quavering voice of a loudspeaker that made the emotion roll.
Arriving with three tribal bandages on her right cheek, in a pink track top and black and purple outfit, Serena Williams opened the ball on her serve, which she won. But the rest of the first set was more delicate. If the American offered the interesting variation on the first pitch, her reaction times at the net or in return were initially very slow. Williams, who had not played doubles since a lost final in Auckland (with Caroline Wozniacki) in January 2020, lacked explosiveness in movement and was not always connected with his partner in placements.
Ons Jabeur often had to multiply in the four parts of the field at the start of the match to try to “plug” the holes. But the Tunisian did it all with a big smile. “When she called me, I couldn’t believe it. I was a bit nervous before playing with such a legend.”, she slipped. Then Serena Williams appeared, much more clearly in the second set. A furious smash, a well-slammed forehand volley along the line, a sequence with a return to the feet and a lob lifted from the backhand, a magnificent cross backhand at the end of the race and an ace to close the second round: the great lady did not obviously hadn’t forgotten anything.
The experimental American-Tunisian pair will therefore offer themselves a second lap at Eastbourne. It will be against the Chan – Aoyama tandem. Happiness in rab, certainly for the two women. One more stone on the way to Wimbledon for Serena Williams, who already knows that everyone is waiting for her there.