Serena Williams marked her return to tennis after a year-long absence with victory alongside Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the 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 court warmup event, as Williams made her first appearance on a tennis court since retiring with a leg injury in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon.
Following the win, the 23-time grand slam winner admitted that there were times during her 12-month layoff that she feared she might never return.
“Absolutely, for sure,” she told the BBC when asked if she was worried her career was over. “I would be dishonest if I said it wasn’t, but now my body feels great.
“It’s doubles, I’m only playing half of the court, but I’ve been doing a lot of training and so it definitely feels good. You know what, I’m literally taking it one day at a time,” Williams added. “I really took my time with my hamstring injury, so I’m just not making a ton of decisions after this.
“It was great out there and so fun to play with Ons, we had a lot of fun. Our opponents played amazing and we were happy to stay in there.”
Last week, Wimbledon organizers announced that Williams had been given a wildcard to compete in 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 win coming 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 back in March that she “should have been at like 30 or 32” grand slam singles titles.
“I should have had it (the record), really, I’ve had many opportunities to have it. But I’m not giving up.”