One of the greatest athletes of our generation, Serena Williams, has returned to playing competitive singles tennis after 364 days of layoff due to injury. On Tuesday, the twenty-three Grand Slam titles holder suffered a heartbreaking loss to France’s Harmony Tan. The dramatic first-round matchup took three hours and eleven minutes to conclude and ended 5-7 6-1 6-7 (7-10) in favour of Tan.
The Williams family watched from the stands, with her older sister, Venus, jumping out of a guest box seat at Center Court to celebrate the best points. Serena lost a tight first set before levelling the match in the second. She was a break-up away in the third, but Tan showed her resilience by fighting back to take a thrilling final set. In the match, Williams played very much like someone whose strokes and determination have returned at times, hitting blistering serves and strokes, celebrated with arms aloft.
Though it is quite bitter-sweet, Williams couldn’t complete the comeback, but her return to Wimbledon is still an achievement. On June 29, 2021, Serena tore her hamstring in the first set of a match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Returning to the same site of last year’s injury at age forty, if she were to have won even just one round, that would cap off a remarkable story.
Asked if it was the final Wimbledon match of her decorated career, Williams said that was a question she “can’t answer.”
“Today I gave all I could do, you know, today,” a dejected Williams told a packed room of reporters after the match. “Maybe tomorrow I could have given more. Maybe a week ago, I could have given more. But today was what I could do.”
For the 115th-ranked tennis player Harmony Tan, what a Wimbledon debut.
“For my first Wimbledon — it’s wow. Just wow,” said Tan post-match and struggling to find words to describe her emotion.