Watch Video: Serena Williams gets standing ovation after her first-round exit from Wimbledon 2022

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 01:04 PM IST
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Serena Williams during her Rd 1 match at Wimbledon on Tuesday | Pic: Wimbledon

Serena Williams began and ended her comeback at Wimbledon after 364 days out of singles competition looking very much like someone who hadn't competed in just that long. She missed shots, shook her head, rolled her eyes.

In between, there were moments where Williams played very much like someone whose strokes and will have carried her to 23 Grand Slam titles. She hit blistering serves and strokes, celebrated with arms aloft.

Returning to the site of her last singles match, which she had to stop after less than a set because of an injury on June 29, 2021, and seven of her major championships, the 40-year-old Williams came within two points of victory. But she could not finish the job against an opponent making her Wimbledon debut and bowed out with a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) loss to 115th-ranked Harmony Tan of France.

'Better than last year'

"It's definitely better than last year," Williams said. "That's a start." Asked whether this might have been her last match, Williams replied: "That's a question I can't answer. I don't know. ... Who knows? Who knows where I'll pop up?" With her older sister, Venus, jumping out of a guest box seat at Centre Court to celebrate the best points, Serena Williams was oh-so-close to pulling out a topsy-turvy match that lasted 3 hours, 11 minutes and was contested with the retractable roof shut for the last two sets.

'Tan thrilled'

"For my first Wimbledon, it's: Wow. Just wow," said the 24-year-old Tan, who recalled watching Williams on TV as a youngster.

"When I saw the draw, I was really scared," Tan said with a laugh, "because it's Serena Williams. She's a legend. I was like, 'Oh, my God, how can I play?'" This is one indication of how things were at the get-go: Of Tan's first 11 points, only one came via a winner she produced. Others came via errors by Williams, either forced or unforced.

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