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Smashing comeback for Serena Williams: wins first match after year away

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Smashing comeback for Serena Williams: wins first match after year away
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EASTBOURNE, England: 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams was greeted with a standing ovation as she strode onto the court at Eastbourne for her first competitive game in a year.

90 minutes later saw cheers from fans as she emerged victorious at the Wimbledon warmup event on England's south coast.

In the first round of the women's doubles on Tuesday, Williams partnered Ons Jabeur against Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova. After losing the first set 6-2, Williams and Jabeur won the second set 6-3 and then the match tiebreaker 13-11 at their third match point.

"I caught some fire behind me," the 40-year-old Williams said. "I needed that. It was good."

This victory means that Williams will have to play at least one match before playing singles at Wimbledon as a wild card entry. The main draw at the All England Club begins on Monday.

Williams last competed in the 2021 Grass-Court Slam. During the first round, Williams suffered a leg injury and buckled her right leg while playing, leading to her retirement from the competition.

She is currently ranked as N0. 1,204 since she hasn't participated in a competition since then, and was not one among the seeded players announced on Tuesday by Wimbledon.

"I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn't be here but I also love what I do off the court," Williams said.

With three black patches on her right cheek, William had a slow start to her match played alongside Jabeur. Having played in the singles event in 1998 and 2011, this marked her third appearance at Eastbourne.

Her opening first serve was at 90 mph (145 kph) and she won the first point after Sorribes Tormo's went long.

Although she found it a little difficult to find her footing in the first set, she improved considerably in the second set.

In the beginning set, she was at times not at her best and was visibly exasperated as she could not go low enough to reply to a shot by Sorribes Tormo. It was only after 25 minutes that Williams was able to hit a winning shot, as her smash flew into the North Stand, and into the hand of a happy spectator.

The second set was better, as she won this set. However, the crowd was shaken when she slipped while rushing into the net, according to AP.

"It was so fun to play with Ons," Williams said in an interview on the court. "It was great. We had a lot of fun and our opponents played amazing. We were happy to stay in there."

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