Ons Jabeur has announced she will not take part in the singles tournament at the Eastbourne International.

Jabeur will continue to play in the doubles, where she will pair with American legend Serena Williams, who has not played a competitive match since a first-round defeat at Wimbledon last year.

The news of the Tunisian's withdrawal from the singles tournament comes on the same day that she was elevated to world number three, after her victory at the Berlin Open on Sunday.

She beat Belinda Bencic in the final after her Swiss opponent retired with an ankle injury.

"I feel like I need to be smart about this decision," Jabeur told reporters about her choice not to play singles at Eastbourne.

Jabeur and Williams will face off against the unseeded duo Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round on Tuesday.

 

Ons Jabeur hailed Serena Williams as a "legend" as she expressed her nervousness and excitement to pair with the American great at the Eastbourne International.

Williams has not played a competitive match since defeat to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of last year's Wimbledon and is now ranked at 1,204 in the world.

The 40-year-old, who is one grand slam title shy of matching Margaret Court's long-standing record of 24, will feature at the third grand slam of the year, which starts next Monday.

Eastbourne will serve as preparation for the upcoming grass-court major after Williams received a wild card in the doubles draw alongside Jabeur.

Jabeur has been in fine form in 2022, winning the Berlin Open and Madrid Open and rising to world number three, though she remains nervous to play with Williams at Eastbourne.

"I wanted to tell everyone, but obviously I couldn't," Jabeur told the WTA Tour in an interview. "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.

"I don't know why she picked me to be honest. Maybe she watched Madrid. 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. I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. I had to take my time in Berlin, but now it's Eastbourne. I cannot wait for this moment."

Williams and Jabeur have been drawn against unseeded duo Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in the first round on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal was stepping up preparation for Wimbledon by training on Mallorca's best grass courts on Thursday, an apparently positive sign that he intends to play in London.

The Australian Open and French Open champion said after his Roland Garros triumph at the start of June that he would only appear at Wimbledon if he could compete without needing anaesthetic injections in a troublesome foot.

The 36-year-old said he was given a couple of injections before every match and announced he would undergo radio frequency injections in a bid to feature at the third grand slam of the year.

Nadal is halfway towards a potential sweep of the four majors, defying the foot trouble by producing results that few saw coming. Rod Laver in 1969 was the last man to win all four singles majors in a calendar year.

Spaniard Nadal was pictured by organisers of the Mallorca Championships on Thursday, during a practice session on one of the tournament's plush courts.

Nadal, who hails from the island, is reluctant to undergo major surgery to prolong his career.

Wimbledon starts on June 27, and it is a tournament that Nadal has won twice, in 2008 and 2010.

He leads the all-time list of men's grand slam singles title winners, with 22 to his name now, two more than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have managed.

That is still one fewer than Serena Williams has managed during her stellar career, and the 40-year-old American rolled in to London on Thursday for another tilt at Wimbledon.

Due to injury, Williams has not competed on the WTA Tour since last year's championships at the All England Club.

She has received a wildcard into Wimbledon, where she has been a champion seven times, most recently in 2016.

Williams posted a video on Instagram of her arriving in London with daughter Olympia.

She intends to compete in doubles at Eastbourne, partnering Ons Jabeur, in the week leading up to Wimbledon.

Serena Williams' return to Wimbledon represents a "great example" to other players, according to Nick Kyrgios, who said tennis fans should not take her or other fellow greats Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, for granted.

Comparing the quartet to four-time NBA MVP LeBron James, Kyrgios says sports fans should enjoy the legends' "amazing" exploits while they still can.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Williams – who has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon last year – has been handed a singles wildcard to compete at the year's tournament, which begins later this month. 

Williams, now aged 40 and ranked 1,208th in the world, has won seven singles titles at Wimbledon, the last of which came in 2016, and 23 grand slams in total.

Berlin Open top seeds Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari progressed with relative ease from their first-round matches, but Aryna Sabalenka and Garbine Muguruza were not so fortunate.

World number four Jabeur, who will team up with Serena Williams at the Eastbourne International, suffered a shock first-round exit at the French Open, but the Tunisian showed no signs of that defeat having affected her in her first grass-court appearance of the season.

Top seed Jabeur required just 73 minutes to overcome Karolina Muchova 6-3 6-3 on Tuesday, with American qualifier Alycia Parks next up after she defeated Qinwen Zheng in straight sets.

Second seed Sakkari, meanwhile, had a similarly comfortable start to her campaign, beating Leolia Jeanjean 6-3 6-2.

Meanwhile, reigning champion Liudmila Samsonova took her place in round two with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Tamara Zidansek.

Samsonova beat Belinda Bencic to claim the title in 2021, and the pair will meet again the quarter-finals should they win respective second-round ties against Veronika Kudermetova and Anna Kalinskaya.

But Kudermetova goes into her clash with Samsonova on a high, having eliminated third seed Sabalenka in a 2-6 7-5 6-4 comeback victory.

WTA Finals champion Muguruza will not be in round two after the Spaniard fell foul of Germany's Andrea Petkovic, who prevailed 7-6 (10-8) 6-4.

"I really do believe that in these really close matches, the simple and little shift of energy can make the difference," Petkovic said.

"If you have the crowd on your side, and they are willing you to the win somehow, I think that can really make a difference."

At the Birmingham Classic, top seed Jelena Ostapenko booked a second-round meeting with Dayana Yastremska.

While Yastremska beat Magda Linette in straight sets, Ostapenko was made to work, with the Latvian requiring two hours to overcome Canada's Rebecca Marino 6-2 5-7 6-3.

Fourth seed Elise Mertens was ditched out by Caty McNally, while former world number two and two-time major champion Petra Kvitova lost to Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Camila Giorgi, the third seed, leads Tereza Martincova after claiming a close first set 9-7 in the tie-break before the match was suspended.

Serena Williams has been handed a Wimbledon singles wild card after confirming her return from injury after a year out.

The 40-year-old has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of last year's tournament at SW19 and is now ranked at 1,208 in the world.

Williams hinted at her imminent comeback in a social media post on Tuesday, however, and it has now been confirmed she will take part in the third grand slam of the year.

Twenty-three time major winner Williams will also compete in the upcoming grass-court event at Eastbourne after receiving a wild card in the doubles draw alongside Ons Jabeur.

That will act as preparation for Wimbledon, a competition she has won seven times, the most recent of those triumphs coming in 2016.

Williams is one major title shy of matching Margaret Court's long-standing record of 24, which has been the case since her most recent triumph at the 2017 Australian Open.

She missed last year's US Open on home soil, as well as this year's Australian Open and French Open.

In her earlier Instagram message, Williams posted an image of her trainers on grass and captioned it: "SW and SW19. It's a date. 2022, see you there."

American Williams joins 10 British players on the initial batch of wild cards for the Wimbledon singles, while three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka will also take part.

Serena's sister Venus, a five-time singles winner at Wimbledon, was not named on the initial batch of wild cards but two spots remain up for grabs.

The tournament in London gets under way on June 27.

Serena Williams has appeared to confirm her intention to take part in this month's Wimbledon after a year out injured.

The 40-year-old has not played competitively since losing to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round of last year's tournament at SW19 and is now ranked at 1,208 in the world.

Twenty-three time major winner Williams' future was called into question in April when long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced he was working with Simona Halep.

However, she hinted around the same time that returning to action at Wimbledon was a possibility, and that news was all but confirmed on social media on Tuesday.

Williams posted an image of her trainers on grass and captioned it: "SW and SW19. It's a date. 2022, see you there."

She also tagged Eastbourne, where a WTA event takes place in the week before Wimbledon, which begins on June 27.

Williams has won seven Wimbledon titles, the most recent of those in 2016, having since lost in the 2018 and 2019 finals.

The American is one major title shy of matching Margaret Court's long-standing record of 24, which has been the case since her most recent triumph at the 2017 Australian Open.

She missed last year's US Open on home soil, as well as this year's Australian Open and French Open.

Iga Swiatek said it was "special" to have produced a longer winning run than Serena Williams and ominously vowed she can take her game to another level after triumphing at the French Open.

The world number one outclassed Coco Gauff on Court Philippe-Chatrier to win her second grand slam title, beating the teenager 6-1 6-3.

Swiatek's victory was her 35th in a row, one more than Williams' best winning streak from 2013, and the Pole is the first player to prevail in nine WTA Tour finals in a row.

Venus Williams is the only other woman since the start of 2000 to have reeled off 35 consecutive victories, while Swiatek and Serena Williams are the only women in the same period to have won six titles in the first six months of a year.

Swiatek expressed her pride at having gone one better than superstar Serena.

She said: "It may seem pretty weird, but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it's something special.

"Because I always wanted to have some kind of a record. In tennis it's pretty hard after Serena's career. So that really hit me.

"Obviously winning a grand slam too, but this one was pretty special because I felt like I've done something that nobody has ever done, and maybe it's gonna be even more. This one was special."

The two-time French Open champion added: "Before the match, before the tournament, I was like, 'Okay, is it going to be even possible to beat Serena's result?'.

"I realised that I would have to be in a final. I was, like, 'Ah, we will see how the first rounds are going to go'. I didn't even think about that before. But right now I feel like the streak is more important. I kind of confirmed my good shape."

Swiatek has been on another level to her rivals this year but says there is room for improvement.

"For sure," she said. "There is always something to improve, honestly. I'm still not a complete player. Especially, I feel like even on the net I could be more solid.

"This is something that Coco actually has, because I think she started working on that much, much earlier than me. There are many things. I'm not going to tell you, because it may sound like I'm concerned about some stuff."

Coco Gauff cited LeBron James, Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and Naomi Osaka as her inspirations after the tennis star wrote "Peace, end gun violence" on a camera at the French Open.

The 18-year-old overcame Martina Trevisan in the semi-final at Roland Garros with ease, recording a 6-3 6-1 victory to book her maiden single's grand slam final appearance.

That made the world number 23 the youngest American female finalist in Paris since Monica Seles in 1991 and the youngest overall since Kim Clijsters in 2001.

Gauff has not dropped a set en route to the final, where she faces the in-form Iga Swiatek on Saturday, but much of her post-match focus was on the ongoings back in the United States.

The USA is still reeling from a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas just over a week ago in which 19 children and two teachers were killed.

In the wake of the tragedy, multiple high-profile sportspeople, including Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, have called for changes to gun laws in the USA, and Gauff joined that list on Thursday.

"It's important, just as a person in the world, regardless of tennis player or not," the teenage tennis star said. "I think for me it was just especially important just being in Europe and being where I know people globally around the world are for sure watching.

"I think that this is a problem in other parts of the world, but especially in America it's a problem that's, frankly, been happening over some years but obviously now it's getting more attention.

"But it's been an issue for years. For me, it's kind of close to home. I had some friends that were a part of the Parkland shooting [in 2018].

"I remember watching that whole experience like pretty much firsthand, seeing and having friends go through that whole experience. Luckily they were able to make it out of it. I just think it's crazy, I think I was maybe 14 or 13 when that happened, and still nothing has changed.

"I think that was just a message for the people back at home to watch and for people who are all around the world to watch. I know that it's probably not [going to] – hopefully it gets into the heads of people in office to change things."

Gauff suggested her post-match scribble on the television camera was not pre-meditated and instead came after seeing reports of four people being shot by a gunman in an Oklahoma hospital on Wednesday.

"I really didn't know what I was going to write even moments walking to the camera, and it just felt right in that moment and to write that," she added. "I woke up this morning and I saw there was another shooting, and I think it's just crazy.

"I know that it's getting more attention now. I definitely think there needs to be some reform put into place. I think now especially being 18 I've really been trying to educate myself around certain situations, because now I have the right to vote and I want to use that wisely."

Gauff joins a long list of athletes that are proactively using their platform and audiences to speak on matters they feel passionately about.

As for her inspirations, Gauff listed the likes of NBA star James, fellow tennis players Williams and Osaka, and NFL's Kaepernick, who popularised taking the knee to stand against police brutality and racism.

"I would say LeBron James, Serena, Billie Jean, Colin, the list goes on, Naomi, it goes on really about those issues," Gauff continued. "I think now athletes are more fine with speaking out about stuff like this.

"I feel like a lot of times we're put in a box that people always say, 'Oh, sports and politics should stay separate' and all this. And I say yes, but also at the same time I'm a human first before I'm a tennis player.

"If I'm interested in this, I wouldn't even consider gun violence politics; I think that's just life in general. I don't think that's political at all.

"So of course I'm going to care about these issues and speak out about these issues. When people make those comments, I'm not going to be an athlete forever.

"There is going to be a time when I retire and all this, and I'm still going to be a human. So of course I care about these topics. Sport gives you the platform to maybe make that message reach more people."

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff achieved numerous feats by reaching her maiden grand slam single's final at the French Open on Thursday.

Gauff has still not dropped a set at Roland Garros this year after cruising to a 6-3 6-1 semi-final victory over Martina Trevisan, ending the Italian's 10-match winning streak.

The 18-year-old became the youngest American female finalist in Paris since Monica Seles in 1991 and the youngest overall since Kim Clijsters in 2001.

The world number 23 is also the third-youngest grand slam finalist this century, with only Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004 and Clijsters at Roland Garros in 2001 doing so at a younger age.

Gauff has lifted the French Open trophy before, though, after succeeding in the junior competition four years ago.

But the in-form Iga Swiatek will be standing in her way on Saturday.

Swiatek is the first player to reach six or more finals on the WTA Tour in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams in 2013 (seven), with the Pole on a remarkable 34-match winning run.

However, the patience and precision of Gauff could test Swiatek after she became just the sixth American player in the Open era to reach the showpiece at Roland Garros without dropping a single set.

Victory for Gauff would make her the seventh player to win the girls' and women's singles titles in Paris.

Iga Swiatek ticked off a whole host of accomplishments as her 34-match winning streak carried her into the French Open final on Thursday.

The world number one was in sensational form heading to Roland Garros after winning five consecutive tournaments.

And there has appeared little prospect of Swiatek slowing in Paris, with her 6-2 6-1 defeat of Daria Kasatkina securing a sixth WTA Tour final appearance in a row.

Swiatek is the first player to make six finals in the first six months of the year since Serena Williams reached seven before the halfway mark in 2013.

She has also now matched Williams' best winning run this century, with only Novak Djokovic in 2011 (43), Roger Federer in 2006 (42) and Venus Williams in 2000 (35) enjoying longer sequences across both the ATP and WTA Tours since 2000.

Swiatek's feats are all the more impressive given her age, as she turned 21 just this week.

Now with 20 wins at Roland Garros, the 2020 champion is the youngest female player to that mark since Martina Hingis in 1999.

Only eight women – Evonne Goolagong, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Hingis, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic – have reached their second French Open final at a younger age.

Coco Gauff has finally shed the burden of comparisons to Serena Williams and is enjoying herself at the French Open, where she considers a dual singles-doubles run "light work".

Gauff has long been identified as a future WTA Tour superstar and enjoyed a breakout season in 2019 as a 15-year-old.

The American reached the fourth round at Wimbledon and third round at the US Open, before again advancing to round four at the Australian Open at the start of 2020.

Yet only now, at Roland Garros, has Gauff advanced to a singles grand slam semi-final after beating compatriot Sloane Stephens on Tuesday.

Still just 18, she is the fifth woman this century to reach the last four at the French Open before turning 19.

Crucially, too, Gauff is enjoying herself, having struggled to celebrate wins previously as she believed her early-career hype.

"Even at eight years old, [I was] 'the next Serena', 'next this', 'next that', and I think I really fell into the trap of believing that," the teenager said.

"Yeah, it's important that you have high hopes for yourself, but also, at the same time, it's important to be in reality – and I think that's where I am.

"I'm in reality, where I'm enjoying the moment and enjoying the situation.

"I felt like I was to the point where even when I made the second week or beat Naomi [Osaka] at the Australian Open, I remember like I was happy but I wasn't that happy, because I was like 'I feel like that's what I should do'.

"Now, I'm really appreciating each win and loss."

Indeed, Gauff claims she is no longer "looking at the finish line", even considering her upcoming semi-final against Martina Trevisan "just another match".

And "mentally", Gauff says, she is "in a great place".

"I feel like a lot of my losses in the past were due to mental errors of just getting used to being on tour and getting used to playing these intense matches," she explained, adding that now: "I know if I do lose a match it's not going to be because of that.

"I'm okay if it is because of my game, because that's something that I can work on."

That is the plan heading into the Trevisan match, with her only previous meeting with the Italian a defeat at this event two years ago.

Gauff has already shown how she can adjust following defeats, responding to her first loss to Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows in 2019 by beating her at the very next major. Before defeating Stephens this week, Gauff's only previous clash with her was a loss at the 2021 US Open.

"I think it gives me confidence," she said. "Losing to Sloane at US Open and [winning] here, and then losing to Naomi [and then winning], and I lost to Trevisan, so I'm hoping the trend keeps going.

"I think that it helps, because I feel like I know what's going on on the court and I know why I lost the match, and I know what I need to work on for the next time.

"I remember each loss pretty well. I mean, my grandfather always told me: forget your wins; remember your losses. I remember each and every loss.

"So when I play the second time, I try not to lose; at least if I'm going to lose, try not to lose the same way I did the first time."

Even before that match on Thursday, though, Gauff has a doubles quarter-final alongside Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.

"If I felt like I couldn't give 100 per cent in both singles and doubles, then I wouldn't play doubles," Gauff said. "But I feel like I can give 100 per cent all the way to the end.

"The intention for me when I enter the tournament is to try my best to win both. So I know going into that, I'm going to be playing double matches in some days.

"For me, really, I'm used to it; playing juniors, we would play three matches in a day. So this is light work."

Iga Swiatek plans to "celebrate with a lot of Tiramisu" after becoming the first player since Serena Williams in 2013 to win five successive WTA Tour events with victory at the Internazionali d'Italia.

The world number one faced Ons Jabeur – who had been on an 11-match winning run – in Sunday's final in Rome and simply had too much for the Tunisian.

Swiatek won 6-2 6-2, with the 20-year-old Pole getting an early break to establish a 3-0 lead that put her in control of the first set.

As it happened, last week's Madrid Open champion Jabeur never managed to wrest control back from her opponent – her only break of the match came while 4-1 down in the second, with Swiatek digging deep to save four break points in her next service game.

Swiatek then saw things out to defend her Rome title and add to her impressive recent streak.

Additionally, Swiatek has emerged victorious from every WTA 1000 event she has entered this season, having previously won in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.

But she was quick to salute Jabeur's efforts after another commendable showing.

Swiatek said: "I want to congratulate Ons because she had such a good run on the clay court.

"You have shown fight, spirit, so much variety that it's really nice to have you on tour. Your tennis is different and your tennis is really interesting for women's tennis I think."

As for her own performances, Swiatek added: "It wasn't easy for the whole week to play every day, but the crowd gave me so much energy.

"It was so nice to play here, be in Rome, and I agree with Ons in terms of good pasta! And today I'll celebrate with a lot of Tiramisu – no regrets!"

Swiatek now heads to Roland Garros – the scene of her first and only previous grand slam success in 2020 – as the firm favourite.

Iga Swiatek believes a hard-won victory over Emma Raducanu on Friday will steel her for challenges ahead after reaching the Stuttgart Open semi-finals.

World number one Swiatek landed a 21st consecutive victory as she edged out US Open winner Raducanu 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 45 minutes on the German clay.

There was plenty to admire from both players, but in the end it was another straight-sets success for Swiatek, who dropped only two games in her previous round against German Eva Lys.

It makes the 20-year-old Pole the first woman to win 28 consecutive sets on tour since Serena Williams, who did so from the 2012 US Open to the 2013 Australian Open.

Swiatek broke early in the first set to take charge, and with 19-year-old Raducanu battling a back problem the rankings leader soon got ahead in the second too.

This was Raducanu's first-ever match against a player ranked inside the WTA top 10, a peculiar statistic given she is already a grand slam champion.

Swiatek, like her opponent, knows how it feels to win a grand slam as a teenage surprise package, having triumphed as a 19-year-old at the 2020 French Open when ranked only 54th in the world.

At 4-3 in the second set of this contest, Swiatek saved two break points with clinical forehand winners out of the reach of Raducanu, shouting out in satisfaction moments later as she held serve to move a game away.

Raducanu had two more break chances in Swiatek's next service game but again could not convert as her opponent sealed victory.

Swiatek said: "I'm pretty happy that today's match was longer. Not for now, but for the future it's going to give me a lot of experience.

"Right now I want to play really aggressively, and I think this game style is going to fit the surface, and it fit the hardcourts as well."

She will face unseeded Liudmila Samsonova next after the Russian, playing as a neutral, beat Laura Siegemund 7-5 6-3.

The other semi-final in Stuttgart will see second seed Paula Badosa take on third seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Badosa was a 7-6 (11-9) 1-6 6-3 winner against Ons Jabeur, while Sabalenka fended off Anett Kontaveit 6-4 3-6 6-1.

At the Istanbul Cup, Friday saw quarter-final wins for Veronika Kudermetova and Anastasia Potapova, along with Sorana Cirstea and Yulia Putintseva.

Those results set up a semi-final on Saturday between second seed Cirstea and third seed Kudermetova, with Putintseva and Potapova also facing off.

Thomas Tuchel declared himself a big fan of Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton after the superstar pair joined a consortium bidding to buy Chelsea.

British motorsport star Hamilton, 37, has earned nearly $500million in his Formula One career, while American tennis great Williams has also acquired major wealth while landing 23 grand slam singles titles.

They will reportedly be chipping in $10m each to Martin Broughton's consortium and have been "constantly in touch", Hamilton said, about the prospect of being part of a successful quest to acquire the Premier League club.

Hamilton, despite being an Arsenal fan, said businessman Broughton's ambitions for Chelsea were "incredibly exciting, and very much aligned with my values".

Chelsea head coach Tuchel said on Friday: "I just heard it, I just got a briefing and heard it.

"I can tell you no more than I'm a big admirer of both of them. They are fantastic personalities on the court and the racetrack.

"They are outstanding sports figures in what they do, for which they have my biggest respect, but I have absolutely no insight in the role they're playing."

Chelsea's long-time owner Roman Abramovich, who has been sanctioned by the United Kingdom government following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, announced his intentions to sell the Premier League club earlier in March.

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