In an interview, Serena Williams said that she feared that her tennis career was over after she suffered a leg injury last year at Wimbledon. The injury forced her to take a year off from the tour.
Williams said that she was unsure about her return to tennis. She admitted that she would have been lying if she wasn’t worried about returning to the sport.
“Did I ever doubt I would return? Absolutely, for sure. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn’t (on her mind) and now my body feels great,” said Williams.
Williams, a former world number one, played her first professional tennis match almost a year after being forced to withdraw from Wimbledon last year.
Williams came back to win her first match in almost a year when she teamed up with Ons Jabeur to beat Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in the doubles event of the International Tennis Tournament in Eastbourne.
Rumours about Williams’ possible retirement started circulating even before she announced her return last week. However, after Wimbledon began on June 27, she decided to play with Jabeur at the warm-up event for the tournament.
Williams and Jabeur, currently ranked third in the world, defeated the Czech Republic’s Bouzkova and Tormo of Spain in the last-16 round.
Far from vintage best
Although Williams was not at her best during her first professional match, the 40-year-old was still encouraged by her performance. She refused to be drawn on her long-term goals despite possibly breaking Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.
Williams said that she took time recovering from her injury and was not making any decisions regarding her future on the tennis court. She also said that she was not training hard during her time off.
“You know what I am literally taking it one day at a time. I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I am not making a ton of decisions after this. I did a lot of non-training in the beginning obviously and after I couldn’t play New York I went cold turkey of not working out,” said Williams.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion added that she could still maintain a semi-fit lifestyle because she could not predict when she would play at Wimbledon.
“It felt good but I always try to stay semi-fit because you never know when you are going to play Wimbledon,” Williams added. “I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn’t be here but I also love what I do off the court.”
Williams received a wild card to play in the singles event at Wimbledon, where she has seven titles. She won her seventh Wimbledon title in 2016.
Fighting spirit remains
After almost a year away, Williams was welcomed by the crowd when she entered the court on Tuesday. She received a loud round of applause when she walked onto the court. Her husband, Alexis Ohanian, was also in the stands to support her. However, during the first set, Williams was not at her best. Her groundstrokes were not consistent, and she quickly fell behind.
Williams played in the doubles event for the first time since she won the Wimbledon tournament with her sister Venus in 2016. Williams was not at her best during her match against Bouzkova and Tormo.
Despite her poor early performance, Williams showed her fighting spirit by hitting the ball cleaner and more consistently. She and her partner, Jabeur, were able to pull back from a set down and eventually win the match.