Serena Williams: What’s next after a fearless departure from Wimbledon?

Her return to the Grand Slam at Wimbledon on Tuesday – a three-hour, 11-minute fight against France’s Harmony Tan – was theatrical, thrilling, but ultimately ended in defeat.

In the longest women’s singles game to date, Tang finished 1st. World No. 115 and first appearance at Wimbledon, not to mention the Center Court main stage, held their own in the deciding tie-break to win 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7).

It was clearly not the most outstanding performance of Williams’ illustrious career, and she never intended to give her any time off.

But when the roof closed and lights came on in the Central Courtyard – a scene that drew oohs and aahs from those watching – the two players put on a show that was too dramatic.

Williams pumps his fists during his first round loss to Harmony Tan at Wimbledon.

In the end, it was Tang who derailed Williams’ comeback party, throwing several punches that even drew applause from her opponent on the other side of the net.

“For my first Wimbledon, it’s wow. Just wow,” Tan said, at a loss for words, in her on-court interview.

Few of those present could disagree.

As for Williams, who turned 40 last September, she is not about to give up on her quest for a record 24th Grand Slam title, five years after she won her last title at the Australian Open.

“Who knows where I’ll pop up,” she told reporters when asked about her future, even suggesting a US Open appearance could be scheduled for later this year.

“The US Open — the first place I won a Grand Slam — is always something special,” Williams added. “Your first time is always special. There is definitely a lot of motivation to get better and play at home.”

Rust was to be expected during Williams’ return to Wimbledon and it took her a while to find some sense of rhythm against Tan. Until Tuesday, her only competitive appearances over the past year were two doubles matches at Eastbourne last week.

She was broken in the first game, but began to get back on her feet by the fourth game – hitting more clearly from the ground as she hit back with Tang’s double serve break.

Tan used a plethora of punches in her three-set win over Serena Williams.

However, the first set turned out to be indicative of the match as a whole: as soon as Williams seemed to have the upper hand over her rival, Tan tried to return to the fight.

This was the case several times in the final set as Williams led twice with a break and then took the lead in the deciding super tiebreaker, only for Tan to win 10 of the next 13 points for the biggest win of her career. career.

Tuesday’s match was a clear contrast of styles. Williams’ attacking play was chaotic, scoring 61 goals – a mixture of powerful ground shots and graceful volleys – interspersed with 54 unforced errors.

Tan, on the other hand, was more conservative and relied heavily on her hit to move Williams around the court, a tactic the American later admitted took her by surprise.

“I think I could play anyone [it] “probably would have been a different result,” she said. “I knew there were a lot of punches early in the fight, but not a lot of right hands. I definitely should have tried to find my rhythm there. You know, hindsight 20/20.”

The positive for Williams, who retired against Alexandra Sasnovich in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon after she slipped and injured her leg, was that her body held up well against Tan.

“Physically I was fine,” she added. “The last couple of glasses I really started to feel it. But I move well, I get a lot of balls. I move well in training.

“For me it was not a surprise, because I knew that I was doing it well. I didn’t train, you know, for a three-hour match. I think that’s where I went wrong.”

It is not yet clear when and where we will next see Serena Williams on the tennis court.

Leading up to Wimbledon, Williams reflected that tennis was no longer her only pursuit in life. Off the court, motherhood, her venture capital, and the release of King Richard, which she helped produce, all occupied her time.

“Honestly, it was completely different. Part of me feels like it’s a bit more in my life now than tournaments,” she said last week.

But that doesn’t mean Williams is completely ready to say goodbye to tennis, even if she hasn’t decided yet on when and where her next performance will take place.

And, if anything, the loss to Tan made the tennis fire burn a little brighter.

“It definitely makes me want to practice on the courts,” she said, “because when you play well and you’re so close…you want to. ‘”