London, Jun 28 (EFE).- American great Serena Williams was unable to get past the first hurdle of her 2022 Wimbledon campaign, showing glimpses of her former dominant self but also a lot of rust in a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) defeat Tuesday to Frenchwoman Harmony Tan.
The 40-year-old Williams came into this year’s Wimbledon with scant preparation, not having played any singles matches since her first-round loss at the All England Club last year, when she had to retire with a hamstring injury that lingered for several months.
She entered a grass tune-up event last week in Eastbourne, England, where she and doubles partner Ons Jabeur won two matches to reach the semifinals before having to withdraw due to a knee injury suffered by the Tunisian.
In Tuesday’s final match on Centre Court, Williams – ranked No. 1,204 because of her lack of activity over the past year – was just a tad tentative on some of the biggest points.
With the 24-year-old Tan serving up set point in the first set at 6-5, ad-in, the American approached the net with a forehand that sat up and allowed her opponent to whip a forehand passing shot winner.
The seven-time Wimbledon champion, however, then went on a run between the start of the second set and the start of the third that saw her grab a 5-7, 6-1, 3-1 lead.
During that stretch, she won an interminable 30-point, 12-deuce game that gave her an early service break in the second set.
But a big turning point came when Williams dropped serve when leading 3-2 in the final set, thus allowing Tan to claw her way back into the contest.
Although Williams got another break and served for the match at 5-4, her lack of confidence showed on more big points down the stretch.
Serving at 5-4, 30-40, the American once again was too tentative on an approach shot and could only watch as the 115th-ranked Frenchwoman stroked a backhand passing shot into the open court.
Williams saved one match point when serving down 5-6 in the third set and then raced out to a 4-0 lead in the deciding 10-point super-tiebreaker.
But she squandered that lead and seemed hesitant in the final points to hit out aggressively.
The American hit a forehand wide to fall down 9-7 and then dumped a forehand in the net on match point.
Williams was clearly the more powerful player overall and struck 61 winners to Tan’s 29, but her 54 unforced errors proved to be her undoing.
Serena also was not as dominant on serve as usual, striking just five aces for the match and winning only 66 percent of her first-serve points.
“I think physically I did pretty good. … I feel like in just those key points, winning some of those points, is always something mentally that you have to have, that you kind of need. I did pretty good on maybe one or two of ’em, but obviously not enough,” Williams lamented afterward.
In other women’s singles first-round action on Tuesday, Polish world No. 1 Iga Swiatek ran her winning streak to 36 matches (longest in the 21st century) by defeating Croatia’s Jana Fett 6-0, 6-3.
Romania’s Simona Halep, the 2019 champion and No. 16 seed, scored a convincing 6-3, 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova; 11th-seeded American Cori Gauff eked out a 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Romania’s Elena-Gabriela Ruse; and two-time champion Petra Kvitova, the No. 25 seed, rallied to defeat Italy’s Jasmine Paolini 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. EFE