Serena returns to tour with doubles win; Badosa upset in Eastbourne

Serena Williams’s first match on tour in nearly a year ended in triumph for the long-time former World No.1.

Williams paired with Ons Jabeur to squeak out a first-round doubles victory at the Rothesay International on Tuesday, edging Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo 2-6, 6-3, [13-11]. Williams and Jabeur saved a match point in the back-and-forth match-tiebreak.

After 1 hour and 33 minutes of gripping play, Williams of the United States and Tunisia’s Jabeur, playing their first event together, were able to hold off the Czech-Spanish pair and line up a second-round clash against Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching.

Welcome back: The win marked a stirring return for Williams, who has an Open Era record of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, as well as 14 Grand Slam doubles title. Williams had not played on tour since she got injured in her first-round singles match at Wimbledon last year.

But she and Jabeur received a wildcard into this week’s doubles draw, and Williams was able to come back to action with aplomb. It was Williams’s first doubles match since she and now-retired Caroline Wozniacki made it to the Auckland doubles final in January of 2020.

Key moments: Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo, who teamed up to win the Istanbul doubles title earlier this season, were the stronger pair in the opener. A Sorribes Tormo volley capped off a first set where she and Bouzkova’s nine winners well outpaced Jabeur and Williams’s four.

But Williams found her rhythm in the second set and she fired a bevy of winners to put her and Jabeur ahead 5-3. At 30-30 in that game, a Williams passing winner, followed by a scream of delight from the American, lined up set point, which Williams converted with an ace.

In the match-tiebreak, Williams and Jabeur saw two match points at 9-8 and 10-9 disappear, and Bouzkova and Sorribes Tormo had their own match point at 11-10. But a thrilling rally ended with a Jabeur winner to set up a third match point for the wildcards at 12-11, which they converted after a wide volley by Sorribes Tormo.

Burrage shocks Badosa

While Williams and Jabeur were winning on Centre Court, a homeland hope pulled off a stunner on Court 1. World No.169 Jodie Burrage of Great Britain swept past No.1 seed Paula Badosa of Spain 6-4, 6-3 to claim a spot in the singles Round of 16.

Burrage will now face No.15 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the third round. Haddad Maia is currently on an 11-match winning streak, having won back-to-back titles on the lawns of Nottingham and Birmingham.

More to come…

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