Serena Williams’ comeback continued as she and Ons Jabeur reached the Eastbourne doubles semi-finals with an entertaining victory over Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching.
The American great, playing just her second match in 12 months, produced a breakout service performance in a 6-2, 6-4 victory over the doubles specialists.
She and Jabeur saved all nine break points they faced.
“Ons held me today, she was very good,” the 40-year-old Williams said.
Williams was given a singles wild card at Wimbledon, which begins Monday, but she joined forces with the singles world number three from Tunisia to gain some practice on the grass court.
The two have visibly enjoyed playing alongside each other, with both players displaying a combination of power and deft touch at net.
“I think we played much better together today, although I thought we played very well yesterday,” said Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion.
“I was looking at Ons like ‘wow’ during the match.”
Jabeur jokingly asked Williams if he would partner her for the US Open, adding: “It’s really great. I think we played really well.”
The two will face the Serbian Aleksandra Krunic and the Polish Magda Linette for a place in the final.
‘Okay, it’s been a while!’
Williams is a 16-time Grand Slam doubles champion, but she is testing her fitness after the ankle injury at Wimbledon last year raised questions about her return to the tour.
‘Onserena’, the nickname Williams gave the two, started off strong, with Williams showing little rust despite playing back-to-back games for the first time in over a year.
The two did not face a break point in the first set, winning five games in a row to take a 5-1 lead before serving out the set.
When faced with two break points on Williams’ serve, the American did what she has done so many times: she hit three aces to cancel out the chance and hold.
Williams moved well, with her and Jabeur winning an entertaining exchange during which Jabeur hit the wall at the back of the court as he ran for a shot.
At the change, Williams checked a rule with the umpire about throwing the ball over the net, adding: “Okay, just wanted to make sure, it’s been a while!”
Overall, Williams served well and came out better in several exchanges from the baseline, with Jabeur being the stronger of the two on the return of serve.
When asked afterwards what she did to celebrate her victory on Tuesday, Williams joked: “I went to the beach and swam like everyone here in the cold water…no, no way!
“I didn’t do much, I just played with my baby [daughter Olympia]. She’s so much fun.”