Ons Jabeur happy to be a ‘doubles specialist’ and learn from ‘inspirational’ Serena Williams

Shahida Jacobs
Ons Jabeur celebrates

She was meant to be on double duty at the Eastbourne International, but Ons Jabeur decided to skip the singles and focus on the doubles alongside “legend” Serena Williams.

Jabeur started her grass-court campaign with the Berlin Open title on Sunday and she was due to play both singles and doubles in England this week.

However, the Tunisian took the “smart” decision and withdrew from the singles.

“I decided to withdraw from singles and be a doubles specialist this week,” the 27-year-old said. “It has been a great week in Berlin and I feel like I need to really be smart about this decision so I’m just playing doubles this week.”

She added: I feel it would be too much for me to play. I don’t feel like I want to do the same mistake that I did in the French Open. But, for me, I just want to be ready to really let go for three weeks now.

“I’m feeling okay, nothing hurts, but maybe I learned a little bit from the past and I try to be ready for Wimbledon.”

The big reasons why she opted to focus on the doubles is because she is teaming up with 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams, who will return to action for the first time in nearly 12 months.

Tennis great Williams has been out of action since Wimbledon last year after picking up a leg injury, but she will return to SW19 next week after accepting a wildcard.

With the American needing game time before the grass-court Grand Slam, Jabeur had no hesitation to accept an invitation to play alongside Williams.

“Serena is such a fighter on the court. I really admire her story, admire everything that she did for us, for women’s tennis,” the world No 3 said.

“I was lucky enough to be on tour with her a little bit and that she spoke to me a couple of times and that she recognised me, she knows my name, I’m talking away before in 2017.

“She’s such an inspiration and the fact that we’re playing doubles together. It’s huge news for me and it’s unbelievable, I honestly never expected her to pick me or even to play doubles after a long time.

“But I feel like I’m going way back and all the memories of watching her winning a lot of Grand Slams. I hope it’s not going to make me too nervous, standing next to her.”