For three hours and 10 minutes, Serena Williams battled. And when it looked like she couldn’t any longer, she continued.
Playing in her first singles match in 364 days — since last year’s Wimbledon Championships — Williams battled, but came up short. Williams goes home in the First Round of Wimbledon 2022, falling to Harmony Tan, 5-7, 6-1, 6-7(7) on Tuesday. The loss is Williams’ third First Round defeat in a Grand Slam of her career.
It was quite the spectacle — arguably the greatest of all-time making her return from a leg injury going up against Tan, who was looking for perhaps the biggest win of her career. The marathon match reached its peak in the decisive third set, which lasted 77 minutes.
The two went back-and-forth, with Williams taking a 3-1 lead, before allowing Tan to battle back. Tan suddenly had a 4-3 lead in the third set, as fatigue looked to be setting in for the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
After Williams fought back to retake the lead at 5-4, Tan once again would not go away. She earned a 6-5 advantage in the set and appeared to have Williams on the ropes. In what was the final game of the match, Williams would find herself within one point of defeat, before pulling it back to force a tiebreak.
Williams took a commanding 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, looking to finish off Tan with ease. But once again, the 24-year-old Frenchwoman wouldn’t go away. She would take a 5-4 lead and wouldn’t look back. Williams, who had 54 unforced errors in the match, was unable to claw her way back and Tan would advance.
While Williams, 40, has yet to decide what the future holds, it’s possible her appearance at Centre Court Tuesday could be her last. And if it is, she goes out as one of the most decorated players in the history of the tournament, having won seven Wimbledon singles titles.