Ons Jabeur on teaming up with Serena Williams: ‘Really lucky that she picked me. I’m really nervous’

Ons Jabeur smiling

Fresh from winning her second title of the season and rising to a career-high No 3 in the WTA Rankings, Ons Jabeur admits she is “nervous” ahead of her next big challenge: teaming up with Serena Williams in the doubles at Eastbourne.

Jabeur is on a roll this year as in May she became the first African and Arab player to win a WTA 1000 title when she lifted the Madrid Open crowned. Then on Sunday she won the WTA 500 Berlin Open and jumped to No 3 in the rankings.

The 27-year-old is set for double duty at this week’s Eastbourne International as she is seeded second in the singles while she will also partner 23-time Grand Slam winner Williams in the doubles.

Williams, who is using the event as a warm-up for Wimbledon after nearly a year on the sidelines, only confirmed last week that she will team up with the Tunisian, who had to keep the news from her friends.

“I wanted to tell everyone but obviously I couldn’t,” Jabeur told the official WTA website. “I told my family, but even my close friends, I didn’t tell anyone.

“Excited, really lucky that she picked me. I’m pretty glad that I can share the court with her. I always watched Serena playing and always supported her. She’s such a legend and such an example for our sport. I’m really nervous to play. I hope the match will be great and we’ll have great matches.”

Venus Williams’ coach, Eric Hechtmann, will be working with Serena in Eastbourne and Wimbledon following her split from Patrick Mouratoglou and he reached out to Jabeur’s team before the French Open in May.

“I don’t know why she picked me to be honest. Maybe she watched Madrid,” Jabeur joked.

She added: “I met her a few times outside the court and she was always nice. I remember exchanging pins with her in Rio. I respect her so much.”

Jabeur and Williams will face Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round at Eastbourne on Tuesday.