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Serena Williams victorious on return after 12-month absence… but face-tape mystery continues

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Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club, Eastbourne, UK - June 21, 2022 Serena Williams of the USA celebrates winning her round of 16 doubles match with Tunis Ons Jaber - Serena Williams wins on her return after a 12 month absence...but a mystery face records continued - ACTION PICTURES
Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Club, Eastbourne, UK – June 21, 2022 Serena Williams of the USA celebrates winning her round of 16 doubles match with Tunis Ons Jaber – Serena Williams wins on her return after a 12 month absence…but a mystery face records continued – ACTION PICTURES

It has been 357 days since Serena Williams last set foot on a tennis court. But her victory against Ons Jabeur in Eastbourne on Tuesday proved that when you have a whopping 23 major singles titles, muscle memory doesn’t go anywhere.

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Admittedly, it was only a doubles match, and far from a complete picture of where Williams is physically located. But she only shocked the tennis world by announcing her intention to play at Wimbledon a few days agoso it was more like a glimpse than anyone expected to see this summer.

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As for Williams, 40, she admitted that there were times last year when she doubted she would ever play again. “Absolutely, of course, I would be dishonest if I said it wasn’t,” she said. “But now my body feels great.”

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Williams was rather tight-lipped after the Round of 16 matchup about what her timeout was like. However, she admitted that for some time she did not even train. “In the beginning, I didn’t train much, obviously. After I couldn’t play in New York, I just passed out without training and that was good. But I always try to stay in half shape, because you never know for sure. when you go to Wimbledon.

She wasn’t interested in retirement issues or if she planned for this run at Wimbledon to be the swan song of her career, but she also had no intention of playing next year. “I don’t know, I can’t answer that question,” she said. “I love tennis and I love to play, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, right? But I also love what I do off the court, what I’ve created with Serena Ventures is interesting. So that’s a lot. “

In Eastbourne, her chosen return location, her presence was mysterious ahead of Tuesday’s match. She only showed up for training on Tuesday afternoon after canceling her Monday workout at any point. That meant there was a distinct element of surrealism to Williams’ return to the set on Tuesday night, given how unexpected it all was.

Armed with some strange face tape on her right cheek that she didn’t want to discuss after the match, she and Jabeur walked onto the court with no idea how things would turn out. It took her a while to shake off the rust, but when she did, there were glimpses of a vintage Williams as she and Jabeur emerged victorious 2-6 6-3 13-11 over Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Buzkova.

    Serena Williams of the United States celebrates with Tunisia's Ons Jabeur (not pictured) after winning the women's doubles round of 16 match against Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sarah Sorribes Tormo of Spain on Day 4 of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park on June 21 .  2022 in Eastbourne - GETTY IMAGES
Serena Williams of the United States celebrates with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur (not pictured) after winning the women’s doubles round of 16 match against Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic and Sarah Sorribes Tormo of Spain on Day 4 of the Rothesay International at Devonshire Park on June 21 . 2022 in Eastbourne – GETTY IMAGES
Serena Williams' reaction in the round of 16 doubles match with Onse Jaber (not pictured) on center court on day four of the Rothesay International Eastbourne in Devonshire Park, Eastbourne.  Photo date: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - Pennsylvania
Serena Williams’ reaction in the round of 16 doubles match with Onse Jaber (not pictured) on center court on day four of the Rothesay International Eastbourne in Devonshire Park, Eastbourne. Photo date: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 – Pennsylvania
Serena Williams, along with teammate Ons Jaber, celebrates their Round of 16 doubles win at Center Court on Day 4 of Rothesay International Eastbourne in Devonshire Park, Eastbourne.  Photo date: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - Pennsylvania
Serena Williams, along with teammate Ons Jaber, celebrates their Round of 16 doubles win at Center Court on Day 4 of Rothesay International Eastbourne in Devonshire Park, Eastbourne. Photo date: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 – Pennsylvania

It was “reassuring” for Williams to see how quickly she sorted things out, given that Wimbledon was only five days away. “Of course, I definitely felt good there, and I talked to Ons in the first set and I said, ‘We’re not playing badly, they really played really well in that set,'” she said. “But obviously winning, getting more balls and playing a little more made us feel a lot better and that was definitely reassuring, like okay it clicks in practice and now it feels like it clicks.”

If there were nerves before the match, then this was to be expected. It was her first match of the year on grass, a surface that aggravated her hamstring injury last year when she slipped at Wimbledon. There were some occasional mistakes and awkward footwork at first, but there were also glimpses of her unrivaled competitive zeal.

A pair of exaggerated overhead shots in the first set showed that Williams was eager to make her mark. Although they lost the first set, due in part to a lack of intuition, Williams and Jabeur fought back.

Jabeur, the world No. 3, later admitted she was nervous at the prospect of playing Williams, the sports giant with whom she had trained just a couple of hours earlier.

There was also a nervous moment when Williams slipped at the net. Later, the gill also slipped badly. But they both rallied, fighting back twice in the second set.

In the most important moments, it was Williams who excelled. Her cross-court winning backhand gave them a checkpoint in the second set, and then a vintage 102 mph T ace pushed her into a tiebreak of the match. The length of the court she discovered during the tie-break showed the class that remains in her game even without matches behind her shoulders. To score her first match point, Williams also defended the net to its fullest.

It took the pair a third match point to win it and prolong this unexpected summer of tennis for Williams.



Source: sports.yahoo.com

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