Serena Williams was unable to summon the old magic as her Wimbledon return ended in a first-round defeat to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan on Centre Court.
Stepping out on court to play singles for the first time since leaving the big stage prematurely and in tears after suffering a hamstring injury in the opening round 12 months ago, Williams was rusty and error-prone.
The will remained and, cheered on by a supportive crowd, she looked like she might stumble over the finish line after coming from a set down and then saving a match point in the 12th game of the decider.
But instead Williams suffered just her third first-round loss at a grand slam, going down 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) in a deciding tie-break at 10.35pm after three hours and 10 minutes.
At 40, the American’s time in the game is clearly running out, but she remained vague about her future plans and refused to rule out another tilt at Wimbledon next year.
“Like I said coming into this, I’m just planning for right now, seeing how I feel, just to go from there,” she said.
Pressed on whether it was her farewell to the All England Club, Williams added: “That’s a question I can’t answer. I don’t know. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.” – Sky Sports