Serena Williams skipped her scheduled practice session at the Eastbourne grass-court tournament at late notice on Monday as the 23-time Grand Slam champion prepares to make her return to competition after a year away.
Williams trained at a nearby club over the weekend and was expected to have an on-site session at Devonshire Park ahead of playing doubles with Ons Jabeur.
They were to face Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova yesterday in their first match.
The 40-year-old Williams, who has not competed anywhere since she was injured in the first round of Wimbledon last year, was awarded a wild card for singles at the All England Club.
Jabeur said it was “unbelievable” to have been asked by Williams to be part of her journey back to competition.
“I’m a good secret keeper — yes, I’ve known [since] before the French Open,” said the third-ranked Jabeur, who arrived at Eastbourne after winning the title in Berlin on Sunday.
“Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her. Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be,” she said.
“Now I’m joking with other doubles players,” she said. “I was like: ‘If you have minus-20 grand slams, don’t even ask me to play doubles with you anymore.’”
Jabeur pulled out of the singles at Eastbourne following her run to the title in Germany and is to play only doubles. Still, she is likely to be kept busy this week given who she is partnering with.
“I cannot wait to see her. I haven’t seen her yet,” Jabeur said of Williams. “Hopefully we will get together and talk a little bit and see, because I’m really pumped.”
In second-round matches, Alison Riske of the US was beaten by Magda Linette of Poland 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4), while fifth-seeded Garbine Muguruza beat Magdalena Frech 6-1, 7-6 (7).
In women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching and Japan’s Shuko Aoyama edged the duo Sania Mirza of India and fourth-seeded Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-7 (3), 10-7 in the round-of-16.
Additional reporting by staff writer
Taiwanese badminton ace Tai Tzu-ying was knocked out of the Malaysia Open yesterday, losing her women’s singles semi-final against Chen Yufei of China 19-21, 21-13, 21-15. Despite two previous victories for second-seeded Tai against Chen this season — including her win in the final of the Thailand Open — fourth-seeded Chen dispatched the world No. 2 in 1 hour, 8 minutes at Kuala Lumpur’s Axiata Arena, securing a spot in the Super 750 tournament’s final. Tai won the opening game of the last-four matchup, scoring two consecutive points after the score was tied 19-19. However, she had a horrific points drought after the
Tai Tzu-ying yesterday was Taiwan’s final hope at the Petronas Malaysia Open in Kuala Lumpur, advancing to quarter-finals of the women’s singles with a decisive win over Kristin Kuuba of Estonia. The world No. 2 and second-seeded Tai crushed world No. 51 Kuuba 21-11, 21-9 in their second-round match, which lasted about 30 minutes, at the Super 750 tournament at the Axiata Arena. In the opener, Tai shot ahead 11-8 at the mid-game interval, with Kuuba starved after the break, scoring one point as the Taiwanese hit five consecutive winners to bound to 16-9. Kuuba rallied to gain two more points, but Tai
It is, to be sure, the stuff of movies: An oft-injured guy ranked outside the top 100, making his Grand Slam debut thanks to a wild card, knocks out two seeded players on his way to a fourth-round matchup at Wimbledon against none other than No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the three-time defending champion. We can guess what Hollywood might do with that script. Tim van Rijthoven, a 25-year-old Dutchman, earned the chance to see what will happen in real life across the net from Djokovic after both men won in straight sets on Friday at the All England Club. “Before the tournament
Novak Djokovic on Monday became the first player to win 80 matches at all four Grand Slams as he made a successful start to his Wimbledon title defense, while teenage star Carlos Alcaraz battled over five sets to make the second round. Six-time champion and top seed Djokovic saw off South Korea’s Kwon Soo-woo 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam winner was made to work after falling a break down in the opening two sets against his 81st-ranked opponent. “Now we have got to 80 wins, let’s get to 100,” Djokovic said. Djokovic, 35, is attempting to win a