Tagged in: Serena Williams

23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams skips practice ahead of doubles match that will mark competitive return

Serena Williams skipped her arranged practice session at Eastbourne with 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. Their first match is set for Tuesday versus Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova.

Williams, 40, who hasn’t 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 stated it was “unbelievable” to have been asked by Williams to be part of her journey back to competition at the Wimbledon warm-up. “I’m a good secret keeper — yes, I’ve known [since] before the French Open,” said the No. 3-ranked Jabeur, who arrived at Eastbourne after winning the title in Berlin on Sunday.

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“Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her. Honestly, Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be.”

Jabeur said she is hoping to learn “even like 2% from it.”

“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 has pulled out of the singles at Eastbourne following her run to the title in Germany and will play only the doubles. Still, she’ll likely be kept busy this week given her partner.

“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. I want to win this doubles and why not win the title here, you know?”

Among those to advance in the singles Monday were three qualifiers — Donna Vekic, Kirsten Flipkens and Lesia Tsurenko — and a wild card in Britain’s Jodie Burrage. American player Alison Riske was beaten by Magda Linette of Poland 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

In the men’s event, sixth-seeded Alex de Minaur of Australia started his title defense by beating Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-3. Two Americans — fifth-seeded Reilly Opelka and seventh-seeded Frances Tiafoe — lost in the first round on Monday.

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Iga Swiatek routs Daria Kasatkina to reach French Open final

Iga Swiatek continued her march toward a second French Open title in three years when she wrecked Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 to reach the final and tie Serena Williams for the second-longest winning streak of this century.

Swiatek’s 34th win in a row puts her one victory from winning her second Roland Garros title and matching Venus Williams for the longest streak on the tour since 2000.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, has not lost since February and has dropped only two sets in her past four tournaments.

“I’m just trying to treat these matches as any other matches,” Swiatek said, “because it is stressful, and I accept that. But I want to keep doing the same work.”

The world No. 1 conceded an early break Thursday, but from 2-2 in the opener, Swiatek dropped only three points the rest of the first set, using her heavy forehand, quick-strike ability and all-court excellence to seize control with a five-game run.

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She then won the last nine points and clinched the triumph with her only ace of the 64-minute match.

The 20th-seeded Kasatkina, a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist, has two career wins over reigning No. 1 players but hit 24 unforced errors to Swiatek’s 13. Swiatek concluded with 22 winners, more than twice as many as Kasatkina’s 10.

She will meet American teenager Coco Gauff, the 18th seed, who defeated Italy’s Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1, in Saturday’s final.

“From what I see on court, she’s developing every year, basically,” said Swiatek of Gauff. “And when I see her, I tend to forget that she’s 18.”

With a win, Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday, would become only the fourth woman in the Open era (since 1968) to win multiple French Open titles at age 21 or younger, joining Monica Seles (who won three), Steffi Graf and Chris Evert.

Swiatek again played with a ribbon in the colors of the Ukrainian flag pinned to her hat while facing her Russian adversary. Swiatek improved to 41-3 this season, with four of the wins coming against Kasatkina.

She has now won her past 13 contests against foes in the top 20 in the WTA rankings, conceding one set along the way.

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Serena Williams out of Wimbledon after slipping on Centre Court, injuring leg

Serena Williams retired from her first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday versus Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a right leg injury.

Holding a 3-1 lead in the first set, Williams slipped and needed to take an injury timeout at the game’s conclusion to receive treatment. She returned to the court, but her movement was visibly limited.

Williams was serving in the fifth game at Centre Court when she lost her footing near the baseline while hitting a forehand. She winced and stepped gingerly between points, clearly troubled.

After dropping that game, she took a medical timeout and tried to keep playing. A crying Williams bit her upper lip and covered her face between points as the crowd tried to offer support and encouragement. But eventually, the 39-year-old American dropped to her knees, and the chair umpire came over to check on her.

The match ended at 3-all in the first set.

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, gave an emotional wave to the crowd and held her hand over her heart as she fought back tears before she exited the court.

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Williams did not speak to the media afterward, though she offered some reaction on Instagram thanking the fans.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” she wrote. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on — and off — the court meant the world to me.”

This marks just the second time in Williams’ storied career she has retired from a match at a major. The other incidence was in the third round at the All England Club in 1998.

“Of course I’m so sad for Serena; she’s a great champion,” Sasnovich said. “It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best for her and her recovery.”

Williams entered the tournament in search of her 24th major title, which would have tied her with Margaret Court for the most ever. She last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017 and has made four finals since returning after giving birth, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019. She made the semifinals at the Australian Open earlier this year as well as the fourth round at the French Open last month.

Her departure makes a wide-open women’s draw even more so. As it was, defending champion Simona Halep and four-time major champ Naomi Osaka withdrew before the tournament started.

Williams was the second player on Centre Court on Tuesday to slip and suffer an injury. Adrian Mannarino, who was playing versus Roger Federer, also was forced to retire as a result of a similar fall. Due to rain, the roof had been closed.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof,” Federer said after his match. “I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down. “This is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.”

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Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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Williams, Wozniacki to play doubles in Auckland

Long-time friends Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki will play doubles together for the first time at the WTA Tour’s ASB Classic in Auckland starting on January 6.

Former world No 1 Wozniacki has started her season in Auckland every year since 2015 and has made the hard court tournament the first stop of her short farewell tour.

The 29-year-old was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis shortly after winning the 2018 Australian Open and will retire from tennis after playing the Open in Melbourne next month.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, has not played doubles with anyone other than her sister Venus since the Fed Cup World Group playoff in 2015 with her last WTA tournament in doubles without Venus was in 2002.

Ciljsters to make comeback in March, Robson undergoes second hip operation, Osaka appoints Fissette as new coach, meanwhile Wozniacki has not played doubles for more than three years.

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Williams was Wozniacki’s bridesmaid at her wedding earlier this year and will play an exhibition in Copenhagen in May – Wozniacki’s final match before retirement.

“We’ve been wanting to play doubles together for a long time but it just hasn’t worked out so I’m really excited that it’s finally going to happen, especially at one of my favourite tournaments on tour,” Wozniacki said. “It’s going to be so much fun!”

“This is a pairing that I think tennis fans have been waiting to see for a long time,” tournament director Karl Budge said Tuesday. “To have Serena and Caroline on court together, on the same side of the net, is an amazing opportunity for tennis fans to see history being made.”

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, has not played doubles with anyone other than her sister Venus since the Fed Cup World Group playoff in 2015. Her last WTA tournament in doubles without Venus was in 2002.

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