Serena Williams knocked out of Wimbledon again in the first round

Wimbledon, England. Serena Williams played at Wimbledon for the 21st time. It was the first time for Harmony Tan, but Tan will be the player to advance to the second round of the All England Club.

Tang, a Little known even in her own country, the Frenchwoman, who took 115th place, defeated Williams, the greatest female tennis champion of her time, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7). Williams has not played a singles match on the tour since retiring in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon in tears with a hamstring injury, but managed to play a lot of tennis on Center Court on Tuesday night, where she won seven titles. Wimbledon in singles. Her grueling duel with Tan was a stylistic contrast that lasted 3 hours and 11 minutes. What Williams lacked was an upbeat, confirming finish, and she didn’t hesitate when asked if it was okay that this was her last Wimbledon memory, if it was.

“Obviously not. You know me. Definitely not,” Williams, 40, said. “But today I did my best, you know, today. Maybe tomorrow I could give more. Maybe a week ago I could give more. But today it was something I could do. At some point you have to be able to put up with it. And that’s all I can do. I can’t change the time or anything.”

On Tuesday, she managed to turn the tide in the match, which was played outdoors in the first set and then under a canopy until the end after the roof was closed to provide the stadium with the necessary lighting to continue. Williams dominated the second set, but Tang fought back in the third, while Williams’ level and energy dropped, although her morale did not drop.

Although she saved match point on her serve at the end final set to take a 4-0 lead in a super tiebreak, new at Wimbledon this year, she couldn’t hold back, conceding too many decisive shots, including a forehand into the net at Tan’s second match point.

“I think I did pretty well physically,” Williams said. “I think the last couple of points I really suffered there, but I feel that just in those key moments, to win some of those points is always something mental that you have to have, that you kind of need. I did pretty well, maybe one or two of them, but obviously not enough.”

Tang’s firm mindset under the pressure of an important match was remarkable for a player with so little experience making his first appearance on Center Court. But she said she had to fight within herself to believe she could really beat Williams.

“When I saw the draw, I was very scared because this is Serena,” said 24-year-old Tan. “She’s a legend, and yes, I was like, ‘Oh my God, how can I play?’ If I can win one or two games, it will be very good for me.”

Instead, she won two sets, turning what could have been a sweet story for Williams into a narrow defeat that will raise the question of how much longer Williams intends to play professional tennis. Turning 41 in September, her quest for a record 24th Grand Slam singles title seems increasingly far-fetched. Longtime No. 1, now she is ranked 1204th and will soon have no ranking at all. But she did not give a definite answer to the question of whether this was her last appearance at Wimbledon.

“That’s a question I can’t answer,” she said. “I don’t know. Who knows where I’ll surface?”

But at least she can leave the All England Club with a less painful memory than the one she took with her. last year’s Wimbledon, when she tore her hamstring after slipping in the first set of her first round match with Alexandra Sasnovich while hobbled off Center Court under extreme stress. She did not compete again until last week when she returned to play doubles in Eastbourne, England with Ons Jaber. Tuesday’s matchup against Tan was Williams’ first singles match of the year, and to her credit, she fought and scurried through peaks and valleys.

“It was definitely a long, very long battle and struggle, and definitely better than last year,” Williams said.

It was a bumpy but ultimately admirable performance as she tried to shake off the rust and solve the many mysteries posed by Tan, who had only watched Williams from afar prior to their duel. “Seeing her next to me before we hit the court was really intimidating because she is so imposing,” Tan said in French. “It was difficult, and even at the end, when we shook hands, she still looked imposing.”

“When I was little, I watched it so many times on TV,” she said in her interview at the trial. “My first Wimbledon is wow!”

That Williams was close to winning was more a tribute to her willpower than her strength, as she was unable to dominate with her first serve or full return and instead fought her way through lengthy plays and compromised situations in the third set, digging low for Tana. clear sliced ​​shots and pushing in the corners. Williams was serving in the 5–4 game and was two points away from a 30–15 win, only to lose the next three points and her serve when she landed an inconclusive right hand that Tan shot wide of her for the winner on the left.

Williams and her player box full of family, friends and team members, including her new coach Eric Hechtmandidn’t get to celebrate. She hit a match point on a 5-6, 30-40 serve with a winning right hand. Then she had to go through a tie-break, despite the fatigue in her legs and the tension in her eyes. She took a 4–0 lead before Tang scored the next five points, throwing Williams off balance.

Tan, coached by 1998 Wimbledon finalist Natalie Taouziat, lacks pure power and has a good second serve, but she understands tennis geometry and has an unconventional toolbox that works well on grass. She also had a good scouting record: Tauzia is 54 years old and long retired, but she faced Williams three times in singles, beating her in the 2000 Paris Indoor Tournament final on low-rebound fast court. Tausia understood the importance of keeping Williams out of her main strike zones and keeping her moving.

“Thank you, Natalie,” Tan said in her on-court interview, looking at Tauzia in the player’s box.

From the start, Tang kept Williams guessing and stretching, mixing often exquisite drops with grid forays; high kicks with return blows from the left; side kicks for the right with a looped topspin.

“Probably any other opponent would have been more suited to my game,” said Williams, who rarely managed to immerse himself in power duels or any other game model for a long time.

No one but Tan knew what would happen. Williams, who lost to such lovers of variety even in her prime, often looked confused early in the game. She also looked taut like a piano string, struggling to let her natural strength flow and skipping swings and group approaches while trying to move sideways.

This was understandable, of course, in light of her long hiatus, and the crowd initially reacted with awkward silence. The Grand Theater of Tennis, where Williams has experienced so many ups and downs over the decades, was almost half empty at the start, but when the match turned into a marathon, it was filled with support and emotion as Williams tried to avoid only a third of the first. – a circular exit from her career in the Grand Slam tournament.

She didn’t quite get it, despite her obvious desire, and there may not be many major tournaments yet to come, although Williams hasn’t ruled out a return to the US Open, where she won her first Grand Slam singles title in 1999 at 17 years.

“Your first time is always special,” she said, speaking slowly and softly. “Of course, you know, there’s a lot of motivation to get better and play at home.”