Serena Williams has been knocked out of Wimbledon in the first round by a rank outsider who hadn’t played on grass before this year.

Serena Williams has been knocked out of Wimbledon in the first round, suffering a dramatic three-set loss to Harmony Tan.

The unseeded Frenchwoman won the first set but lost the second before keeping her cool at the death to topple her veteran opponent 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7), in what was Williams’ comeback to grand slam tennis for the first time in 12 months after a long injury lay-off.

Watch Tennis Live with beIN SPORTS on Kayo. Live Coverage of ATP + WTA Tour Tournaments including Every Finals Match. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >

Remarkably, Tan had never played on grass before this year. It was her first match at Wimbledon and only her ninth grand slam match ever and still she managed to outlast a living legend in a gruelling battle that lasted for three hours and 10 minutes.

It’s also the first time Williams has ever lost in the first round at the All England Club.

Tan’s honesty during her on-court interview sparked laughter from the crowd as she revealed how she really felt when she was drawn to play Williams in the opening round.

“When I first saw the draw, I was really scared. Because it’s Serena Williams, she’s a legend,” Tan said.

“I was like, ‘How can I play?’ And if I win one game or two games, it (would be) really good for me.

“I don’t know what to say, I’m so emotional now because she’s a superstar.

“When I was young I was watching her so many times on the TV. For my first Wimbledon this is just… wow.”

The tennis world was in awe of what they witnessed on Centre Court.

“I’m speechless,” Martina Navratilova said in commentary.

Tan won three games straight in the third set but Williams pulled out what was described on social media as the “drop shot of her life” to take a 5-4 lead and be on the verge of an astonishing victory.

She sunk to her knees and pumped her fist, looking emotionally and physically drained as she went to her seat for the changeover.

There were more cries of jubilation in the next game as Williams looked on course to book her spot in the second round, but Tan would not lie down, breaking back to level things up.

Williams scrapped her way back to deuce in the next game but her opponent stayed composed to hold serve, giving a roar as she went ahead 6-5.

Serving to stay alive, Williams was clutch off her own racquet and sent the clash to a deciding final-set, first-to-10 tiebreak.

The 23-time grand slam winner quickly went up 4-0 but Tan, as she had done all match, bounced back, winning five consecutive points.

Williams went ahead 6-5 with a crucial stab volley, leading Navratilova to say in commentary: “I cannot believe that went over the net, seriously.”

Tan went up 8-6 then soon it was 8-7, before a Williams unforced error gave her rival match point. The French star made no mistake and closed out the biggest win of her career.

Doubts had been growing about whether Williams — the former world number one who has slumped to 1204th in the rankings after her period of inaction — would return to the sport. This time last year, she quit her Wimbledon first round match in tears after suffering an injury that has kept her out of action for the best part of 12 months.

But she warmed up by teaming up with Ons Jabeur in the doubles at Eastbourne last week and although she was extremely rusty, showed plenty of grit.

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

She was cheered as she walked onto Centre Court for the evening match, waving to the crowd.

Williams, who was given a wildcard for this year’s tournament, is stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles wins — agonisingly one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record.

With AFP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *