The tennis world went into meltdown when Serena Williams announced her return, but the news has left one Aussie out in the cold.
The tennis world is abuzz as Serena Williams’ comeback draws closer, but one Aussie won’t be as happy as the rest.
With Wimbledon less than a week from getting underway, Williams will make her first competitive appearance in nearly 12 months.
Watch Live Coverage of The ATP & WTA Eastbourne International 20th – 25th June with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
The American superstar’s return however has left one Aussie out in the cold with Ellen Perez pushed aside in favor of the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
Perez, 26, generally teams up with current world No. 3 Ons Jabeur, but the Tunisian delivered the brutal news.
Jabeur received a call from Williams who explained she was keen to team up and in a heartbeat she answered.
“It was great, you would say yes right away of course. It’s a pleasure that she chose me, it’s unbelievable,” Jabeur told Arab News.
“I was having dinner with Ellen Perez and I was like, ‘Ellen I’m not playing doubles with you anymore, it got serious now. Now I’m not accepting to play doubles with anyone with less than 20 Grand Slams’.”
The 27-year-old Jabeur has been in scintillating form of late as she climbs the rankings, sitting less than 200 points behind world number two Anett Kontaveit.
Williams and Jabeur will team up for the first time at the Eastbourne International before the focus shifts to Wimbledon.
Williams stunned the tennis world when she announced her comeback via Instagram last week.
“I am excited to return to the Rothesay International Eastbourne in England and to be back on the grass — a surface that has been so good to me throughout my career,” said Williams.
“Eastbourne has a unique charm that you don’t see anywhere else on tour and I’m looking forward to playing in front of the fans again.”
Williams won the last of her seven Wimbledon singles titles in 2016 but reached the final in 2018 and 2019 after returning from having a baby.
She made a tearful exit last year after retiring during the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a leg injury and doubts had been growing about whether she would return to the sport.
Her long-time coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, revealed in April that he had taken on a new role with Simona Halep.
Wimbledon is widely considered Williams’s best chance of claiming a 24th Grand Slam singles crown to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Her last grand slam title came at the Australian Open in 2017.
Wimbledon board member Tim Henman, who reached four semi-finals at the tournament, said: “It is a good selection on the women’s side.
“Serena requested (a wildcard) actually a couple of weeks ago and she is going to play down at Eastbourne. Hopefully she will get a good chance of getting some grass court preparation in.”
British players dominated the rest of the wild card list, with players including Katie Boulter and Liam Broady given spots in the singles main draws.
Joining them will be three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, who has returned from a long-term foot injury this season, and Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven, who beat Daniil Medvedev in the final of the s’Hertogenbosch grass court tournament on Sunday.