Serena Williams and Ons Jabeur withdrew from their Eastbourne semifinal match on Thursday, ending their thrilling run as first-time doubles partners. Jabeur was unable to continue due to a knee injury.
The duo, who nicknamed themselves "OnsRena," had won both matches they'd played at Eastbourne. They pulled out a narrow tiebreak win on Tuesday, defeating Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova 2-6, 6-3, 13-11. Then on Wednesday, they nailed down a 6-2, 6-4 win against Shuko Aoyama and Hao-Ching Chan. Aleksandra Krunic and Magda Linette, who were scheduled to be Williams' and Jabeur's next opponents, will now advance directly to the final.
Eastbourne was Williams' first competition in nearly a year. In the first round of Wimbledon 2021, Williams suffered a leg injury that forced her to retire. She limped off the court in tears, and spent the next 11 and a half months recovering. She teased her return on June 14, and was given a wild-card spot at Wimbledon before teaming up with Jabeur for doubles at Eastbourne as a warmup for her Grand Slam comeback.
While Williams' partnership with Jabeur was short, it allowed her to get back into competition mode again. She's not playing Wimbledon to do well, she's playing to win, and it's helpful that her first time back on the court won't be the first round at the All England Club.
“I feel good," Williams said after Wednesday's match. "As good as one can feel after having such a long time off. [...] It was actually good match play and match practice, which is exactly what I needed and what I wanted to do coming here, so I couldn’t have asked for more.”
No details of Jabeur's injury have been released, so it's unknown if it will cause her to miss Wimbledon, or if she withdrew as a precautionary measure. Play at the All England Club begins on Monday, but depending on Friday's draw, she might get an extra day to rest if her first-round match is scheduled for Tuesday.