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Jabeur to focus on doubles with Williams

With a week to Wimbledon Ons Jabeur has withdrawn from the singles at Eastbourne to conserve energy after her run to the final in Berlin on Sunday.

Jabeur said on Monday she will still play doubles on England’s south coast, an event in which she partners Serena Williams, who is making her comeback after nearly a year off the circuit.

The Tunisian, who has risen to world No.3 after winning on Sunday when Belinda Bencic retired with an ankle injury, said: “I feel like I need to be smart about this decision.”

Jabeur and Williams meet unseeded duo Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round on Tuesday.

Jabeur said she did not hesitate when asked if she wanted to play with Williams.

“It’s an obvious yes,” she said. “I cannot wait to see her. I’m really pumped. I want to win this doubles and why not win the title here, you know?

“She’s such an inspiration and the fact that we’re playing doubles together. It’s huge news for me and it’s unbelievable.

“Many players were jealous because I’m playing with her. Serena is Serena. She is a legend and always will be.

“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.”

“The fact that she returned and I get to be part of her journey, it’s really unbelievable. She did a lot for our sport and I really respect her, respect her story, respect everything she’s been through.

“I hope I can learn even like two per cent from it. Now I’m joking with other doubles players, I was like, if you have minus 20 grand slams, don’t even ask me to play doubles with you any more.”

With agencies

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