Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams suffers shock first-round defeat in a late-night epic; top seed Iga Swiatek becomes 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: 29/06/22 1:11am
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.
At 40, the American’s time in the game is clearly running out, but she remained vague about her future plans and refused to rule out another tilt at Wimbledon next year.
“Like I said coming into this, I’m just planning for right now, seeing how I feel, just to go from there,” she said.
Pressed on whether it was her farewell to the All England Club, Williams added: “That’s a question I can’t answer. I don’t know. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.”
Williams recovered from a very shaky start to lead 4-2 in the opening set but 21 unforced errors proved her downfall.
She composed herself after a short break to close the roof, winning the second set comfortably, and it looked like she might find a way through when she led 3-1 in the decider.
But there were no certainties about Williams here and she was unable to capitalise on a 4-0 lead in the tie-break, with Tan celebrating the best moment of her career.
“I think physically I did pretty good,” said Williams. “I think the last couple of points, I was really suffering there.
“But I feel like in just those key points, winning some of those points, is always something mentally that you kind of need. I did pretty good on maybe one or two of them, but obviously not enough.”
“There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home”
Williams indicates she will play at the US Open
Asked if she could be satisfied with Tuesday’s loss being her final Wimbledon memory, she said: “Obviously not. You know me. Definitely not.
“But today I gave all I could do. Maybe tomorrow I could have given more. Maybe a week ago I could have given more. But today was what I could do. At some point, you have to be able to be OK with that.”
Silky Swiatek makes more history
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