Serena Williams' return to the WTA tour got off to a dream start as the 23-time Grand Slam champion marked her comeback with a victory at the 2022 Eastbourne International.
Playing alongside Ons Jabeur in the doubles category, the American-Tunisian pair defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova 2-6, 6-3 (13-11) in their opener. Williams looked quite rusty in the first set, and combined with the fact that Jabeur is more attuned to playing singles, the duo looked set for an early exit.
But once the former World No. 1 found her groove and the World No. 3 adjusted to the demands of doubles, Williams and Jabeur looked mighty impressive, especially in the closing stages of the game.
At several points, the 40-year-old turned back the clock with vintage volleys that served to remind fans once more of what made her the phenomenon that she was. The Tunisian, who pulled out some ridiculous shots of her own, enjoyed the contest just as much as the spectators, and was spotted with a huge smile across her face throughout the match.
Tennis fans on social media were just as glad to see Serena Williams triumph on her comeback, throwing one superlative after another to describe the emotions they felt at watching a legend of the game still dominating the court.
More than once, Williams was hailed as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), while others credited the American for reminding them once more about how fun tennis can be. Several Twitter users also praised the 40-year-old and Jabeur for delivering one of the best doubles matches of the year.
"Surreal to see Serena Williams back on a competitive match court again today. Had been nearly 365 days since the Wimbledon 1R 2021. Her legacy is beyond cemented, but she continues to write new chapters. Greatness personified," one fan tweeted.
"Serena and Ons single-handedly putting the WTA back in the map, love to see it. Everyone was just excited to see some Serena magic again. We’ve missed it," another fan tweeted.
"This is what tennis needed! So much fun! I had forgotten how fun tennis is," one account wrote.
"Imagine being a fan of a legend for your whole life & end up years later teaming up together. Ons has been constantly talking about how it feels unreal for her that she’ll play with Serena Williams. Today she became only the 6th woman to share the court with her. One for history," another user posted.
Serena Williams and Ons Jabeur take on Shuko Aoyama and Hao-ching Chan in the quarterfinals
Following their victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova, Serena Williams and Ons Jabeur will take on the unseeded pairing of Shuko Aoyama and Hao-ching Chan in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Eastbourne International.
The Japanese-Taiwanese duo scored an upset of their own in the opener, defeating fourth seeds Sania Mirza and Lucie Hradecka in three sets. The winner of the clash is expected to face second seeds Gabriela Dabrowski and Giuliana Olmos in the semifinals, while a potential encounter with top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Ena Shibahara looms ahead in the final.
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