Wimbledon: Serena Williams goes down fighting

Serena Williams went down fighting in the first round of Wimbledon

Serena Williams went down fighting in the first round of Wimbledon

Serena Williams went down fighting on her return to Wimbledon after a year.

Seven-time champion Williams went down to unseeded Harmony Tan 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 in her first singles encounter since an injury forced her out of Wimbledon last year.

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Williams, 40, won the last of her Wimbledon singles titles six years ago but reached the final in 2018 and 2019.

“When I saw the draw, I was really scared,” said Tan, who was making her Wimbledon debut.

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“She’s such a legend. I thought if I can win one game, two games, that would be really good for me.

“For my first Wimbledon it’s wow – just wow. I’m so emotional now. She’s a superstar. When I was young, I was watching her so many times on the TV.”

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The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, cheered by the crowd as she made her entrance, lost the first set but broke early in the second set and went on to level the match.

Williams was far below her imperious best on Tuesday, struggling from the start with her form and fitness.

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She faltered while serving for the match and faded in the third-set tie-break after taking a 4-0 lead.

The American finished with 61 winners but 54 unforced errors the 3-hour, 11-minute evening match.

Williams, however, brushed off retirement talk.

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“It definitely makes me want to hit the practice courts because you’re playing not bad and you’re so close,” Williams told reporters after the match.

“Any other opponent probably would have suited my game better.

“So, yeah, I feel like that it’s actually kind of like, ‘OK, Serena, you can do this if you want.'”

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Williams now hopes she’ll be able to play her home Slam at the US Open in September.

“When you’re at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I’ve won a Grand Slam, is something that’s always super special,” Williams said.

“Your first time is always special. There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”