Sports, Tennis

‘I doubted I’d ever return,’ says Serena after winning comeback


By AFP
Published : 22 Jun 2022 07:01 PM

Serena Williams admitted Tuesday that she feared her storied career was over after a leg injury at last year’s Wimbledon forced her off tour for a year and saw her ranking plummet to 1,204 in the world.

"Did I ever doubt I would return? Absolutely, for sure. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn't (on her mind) and now my body feels great," said Williams.

The 40-year-old made a winning comeback when she teamed with Ons Jabeur to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova 2-6, 6-3, 13-11 in the Eastbourne International doubles on Tuesday. Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, was playing for the first time since a tearful exit at Wimbledon last year.

Before she made the surprise announcement of her return last week, rumours of retirement had swirled around her for several months.

But, with Wimbledon starting on June 27, she finally resumed her career, playing with Jabeur at the Wimbledon warm-up event by the Sussex seaside.

Williams and Tunisia's Jabeur, who is third in the WTA singles rankings, saw off Spain's Sorribes Tormo and Bouzkova of the Czech Republic in the last-16 tie.

Although Williams was far from her vintage best, she will be encouraged by her first outing for 12 months.

However, she refused to be drawn on how long she intends to play despite Margaret Court's record of 24 Slams being tantalisingly within reach.

"You know what I am literally taking it one day at a time. I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I am not making a ton of decisions after this.

"I did a lot of non-training in the beginning obviously and after I couldn't play New York I went cold turkey of not working out.

“It felt good but I always try to stay semi-fit because you never know when you are going to play Wimbledon.

“I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn't be here but I also love what I do off the court.”

Williams has been given a wildcard to play in the singles at Wimbledon, where she is a seven-time champion, as she restarts her history bid.

The last of Williams' 23 Grand Slam singles titles came when she was pregnant at the Australian Open in 2017.

Since then she has lost four Grand Slam finals, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019.

Williams won the seventh and most recent of her seven Wimbledon singles titles in 2016.