Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams suffers a shock first-round defeat in a late-night epic; top seed Iga Swiatek became the first women’s player in the 21st century to win 36 consecutive matches after she beat Croatia’s Jana Fett on Centre Court
Last Updated: 28/06/22 11:19pm
Serena Williams was unable to summon the old magic as her Wimbledon return ended in a first-round defeat to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan on Centre Court.
Stepping out on court to play singles for the first time since leaving the big stage prematurely and in tears after suffering a hamstring injury in the opening round 12 months ago, Williams was rusty and error-prone.
The will remained and, cheered on by a supportive crowd, she looked like she might stumble over the finish line after coming from a set down and then saving a match point in the 12th game of the decider.
But instead Williams suffered just her third first-round loss at a grand slam, going down 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) in a deciding tie-break at 10.35pm after three hours and 10 minutes.
World No 1 Iga Swiatek went into the record books in style as she won her 36th match in a row with victory over Jana Fett on Centre Court.
Swiatek’s amazing streak, which goes back to February and has seen her win six tournaments, means it is the longest winning streak of the 21st century, overtaking Venus Willams’ record set in 2000.
The two-time French Open champion, a hot favourite for the crown, enjoyed the prestigious opening slot on Centre Court usually reserved for the defending champion and beat Croatian Fett 6-0 6-3.
Defending champion Ashleigh Barty’s retirement meant that Swiatek was given the honour of opening play on the main show court and she looked entirely at home, handing her opponent a 33-minute bagel.
This was the Pole’s first match since winning at Roland Garros and Fett, who has had an active warm-up on the grass, threatened a comeback as she led 3-1 in the second set.
She had three break points to make it 4-1, but Swiatek escaped and that was the end of it, as the Pole quickly rattled off five games in a row to continue her invincible streak.
Coco Gauff got off to a bumpy start and converted only four of 25 break points but those glitches were not enough to throw her off course as she reached the second round with a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win over Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse.
The 18-year-old American is the youngest player in the singles draw and after her runner-up finish at the French Open this month, many are tipping her to go all the way at the All England Club.
She faces Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu next.
Number five seed Maria Sakkari made light work of Australian Zoe Hives, wining 6-1 6-4, but 14th seed Belinda Bencic is out, losing 6-4 5-7 6-2 to Wang Qiang in a match carried over from Monday.
Is Venus set to partner Jamie Murray in mixed doubles?
Venus Williams is ready to make a surprise Wimbledon appearance after requesting a late wildcard to play alongside Jamie Murray in the mixed doubles.
The 42-year-old American is a five-time singles champion at the All England Club and won the doubles with her sister Serena on six occasions but she last played on the WTA Tour in August last year and has since been sidelined with a leg injury.
Murray, 36, has twice won the mixed doubles at Wimbledon, in 2007 and 2017.
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Source : Sky Sports