Serena Williams admitted she feared for her career after suffering a long-term injury
Serena Williams says she feared her career had met a premature end before she successfully made her return to the court on Tuesday, a year or so removed from suffering a hamstring injury at Wimbledon which forced her out of the sport for an extended spell.
Willams, 40, partnered with Ons Jabeur to defeat the team of Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova in three sets (2-6, 6-3, 13-11) at the Eastbourne International doubles event, which was the 23-time Grand Slam winner's return to tennis after confirming her comeback last week.
It had previously been rumored that Williams was to step away from top-level tennis after injury ended her Wimbledon run last year and forced her to take a year off; an absence which saw the former world number one drop to 1,204 in the women's rankings.
And while she appeared somewhat rusty, Williams will be pleased that she seems to have emerged from her comeback match unscathed after what was her first grass court doubles match since she won the Wimbledon doubles event alongside her sister Venus in 2016.
"Did I ever doubt I would return? Absolutely, for sure. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn't [on my mind] and now my body feels great," she said afterwards.
Williams remains just a single Grand Slam win away from Margaret Court's all-time record of 24, but the American refused to be drawn into speculation about how long she intends to extend her career.
"You know what? I am literally taking it one day at a time. I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I am not making a ton of decisions after this," she said.
"I did a lot of non-training in the beginning obviously and after I couldn't play New York I went cold turkey of not working out.
"It felt good but I always try to stay semi-fit because you never know when you are going to play Wimbledon.
"I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn't be here but I also love what I do off the court."
Despite her lowly ranking, Williams has been handed a wild card to play at Wimbledon, where she is a seven-time winner where she will hope to claim the record-equaling Grand Slam - which would be her first since she won the Australian Open while pregnant in 2017.
Since then Williams has been defeated in four Grand Slam finals. Her most recent Wimbledon crown came in 2016.
Further tests remain of both her ability to withstand the challenges of women half her age on the court, as well as her battle against her own body - but Williams says that her Wimbledon trial run went about as well as it could have.
"It's doubles, I'm only playing half the court," she admitted. "I've been doing a lot of training and it definitely feels good."