New doubles team ‘Onserena’ made two out of two at Rothesay International Eastbourne on Wednesday, with Serena Williams warning her rivals with numerous brilliant flashes.
A 6-2, 6-4 victory over Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching was sealed on Center Court in just over an hour, leaving the makeshift pair two more wins from winning the South Coast title.
Williams produced several aces and winners, particularly at net, although shadows gathered at Devonshire Park to show the 23-time Grand Slam champion could be just a contender at SW19 next week.
“Oh yeah, I don’t know if you know the team name? It’s Onserena,” revealed the 40-year-old.
“I had a really good practice before Wimbledon and this tournament, hit the ball really well and just practiced. It worked and it just connected.
“I feel like I served well, so that was really good. I’m working really hard on it. I returned well. I missed a lot today but the young ladies they served really well, the ball stayed lower but yeah those two shots really worked out for me.”
Jabeur, in keeping with her tone for this week, which has seen her showering her doubles partner with praise, purred over Williams’ serve.
The Tunisian played her part with some deft touches at the net but before long they will be rivals at the All England Club in the third Major of 2022.
When Williams announced a shock return to tennis on June 14, it put an end to retirement rumors after longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou began working with Simona Halap earlier this year.
A wildcard entry into the doubles at Eastbourne has been agreed to give the seven-time Wimbledon champion some match practice before beginning her latest bid for a 24th Grand Slam title.
After nearly 12 months on the sidelines, it’s now a back-to-back win for the American great, and it’s got the competitive juices flowing.
Williams added, “I think I’ll always enjoy the competitive side and I think there’s a part of me that will always miss it no matter what.
“So I didn’t think about missing it. I was just recovering and taking some time off and just mental breaks but yeah now that I’m back it’s like, especially this match in particular, it’s like, OK, you really remember the competitiveness and then you start to miss it, yeah sir.”
Williams and Jabeur secured two breaks by the 13-minute mark, completing the first set within half an hour before a tougher second set finally sealed in time and play was suspended for the day shortly after.
After missing the deadline to attend Wimbledon, Onserena will not be gracing the All England Club as a couple next week, but with their semi-final tie set for Friday, more events could be on the horizon.
Jabeur emphasized: “We played much better. I think we’re getting used to each other now. I’m ready for more tournaments to be honest.”
Williams, looking sharp despite going back-to-back days, added: “I’m feeling good. That’s how good you can feel after such a long break. I said Ons. It was a really good match and especially the second set, they played really well but we could just play different circumstances.
“It was actually good match play and match practice, which is exactly what I needed and what I wanted to do to get here, so I couldn’t have asked for more.”
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