The return to action of Serena Williams has been brought to a sudden end after doubles partner Ons Jabeur dropped out of the Eastbourne tournament due to injury.
The 40-year-old sailed through the opening two rounds with Jabeur, first battling to victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzkova 2-6, 6-3, 13-11, then defeating Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching 6-2, 6-4 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday at Devonshire Park.
"I don't know if you know the team name? It's 'OnSerena'!" Williams said of her partnership with Jabeur, who had never played with the American until this week.
"I have had some really good training leading up to Wimbledon and up to this tournament, really hitting the ball well. I feel like I have been serving well so that's been really good."
It had been Williams' first two competitive matches since limping out of Wimbledon in tears last summer with a hamstring problem and she was scheduled to play in the semi-finals against Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia and Poland's Magda Linette on Friday.
But Tunisia's Jabeur – ranked third in the world in singles – injured her right knee, Britain's Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said in a social media post and has been forced to withdraw.
So Williams will now turn her attention to a much greater test at the All England Club, where she has taken a wild card into the women’s singles as she continues her pursuit of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
SW19 has been a happy hunting ground for Williams and she has been singles champion seven times, while winning the doubles title – alongside sister Venus – on six occasions.
Speaking after Wednesday’s match, Williams added: “I feel good. As good as one can feel after having such a long time off. I was telling Ons, this was a really good match and the second set in particular, they played really well, but we were able to just play different circumstances.
“It was actually good match play and match practice, which is exactly what I needed and what I wanted to do coming here, so I couldn’t have asked for more.”
Williams, who is unseeded at Wimbledon and currently ranked 1,204 in the world, will find out who she faces in the first round when the draw is made on Friday morning.
It is unclear about the severity of Jabeur's injury. She arrived in Eastbourne on the back of winning the grass-court title in Berlin and will be one of the top seeds at Wimbledon.