Serena Williams leaves Eastbourne starstruck on competitive return to tennis

[22-06-2022 12:06 PM]

Ammon News - The signs pointed to one of the greatest players of all time slipping quietly into retirement without the farewell she deserves.

But on Tuesday, Serena Williams made her return to the tennis court - almost exactly a year since her last competitive match and just weeks after many had predicted the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion would never play again.

At Eastbourne's Devonshire Park, usually the hub of the sleepy Sussex seaside town's cultural scene and home to a number of theatres, Williams took centre stage.

The 40-year-old American teamed up with Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in the Eastbourne doubles and the pair won their opening match in an entertaining evening.

Next week Williams is hoping to play in the singles at Wimbledon, where she has won seven of her major titles.

Afterwards, she said she "absolutely" had moments of doubt about whether she would ever play again.

"You know what, I'm literally taking it one day at a time," she said.

"I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I'm just not making a ton of decisions after this."

In April, when her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou started working with former world number one Simona Halep, Williams had not played competitively for nine months.

She was midway through her 41st year. There was little evidence she had even been practising.

Further fuel to the speculation about the American's future was added by the recalling of her comments at the 2021 Australian Open, where she said: "If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone."

Later that day, in an Instagram story with NFL star Aaron Rodgers, she casually dropped into conversation she was preparing for Wimbledon.

But, still, the announcement that she was heading to Britain to play - an Instagram post of her feet on the grass with a caption saying "SW at SW19. It's a date." - had not been seen as a given.

"I think it surprised everyone," Spanish world number four Paula Badosa said.

"It's very good to have her back and it really amazed me how she had all this hunger for the game and still has it. I think it is a great inspiration.

"I hope she can be back for much more time."


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