Serena Williams marked her return to tennis after a year-long absence with victory alongside Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in women’s doubles at the Eastbourne International.
The pair beat Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo 2-6 6-3 13-11 in the grass warm-up as Williams made her first appearance on a tennis court since retiring with a leg injury in the first round of Wimbledon last year.
After the win, the 23-time Grand Slam winner admitted there were times during her 12-month layoff when she feared she might never return.
“Absolutely, of course,” she told the BBC when asked if she feared her career was over. “I would be dishonest if I said that is not the case, but now my body feels good.
“It’s doubles, I only play half the court, but I’ve been training a lot and so it feels really good. You know what, I’m literally taking it one day at a time,” added Williams. “I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I just don’t make a ton of decisions after that.
LILY: ‘I should have been 30 or 32’ Grand Slam singles titles, says Serena Williams
“It was great and so much fun to play with Ons, we had a lot of fun. Our opponents played amazing and we were happy to stick with it.
Last week, Wimbledon organizers announced that Williams had received a wildcard to enter the singles draw at the All England Club.
Williams is chasing Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, with her last Grand Slam victory at the 2017 Australian Open.
The 40-year-old last reached the Wimbledon final in 2019, where she lost to Simona Halep, and told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in March that she “should have been about 30 or 32” away. in Grand Slam singles.
“I should have had it (the record), really, I had a lot of chances to have it. But I’m not giving up.”