Venus Williams was left cursing her luck and searching for answers after her Wimbledon comeback was ruined by a knee injury.The 43-year-old had slogge
Venus Williams was left cursing her luck and searching for answers after her Wimbledon comeback was ruined by a knee injury.
The 43-year-old had slogged through months of rehab on a hamstring problem to make it here but, three games into her first-round match against Elina Svitolina, she slipped, fell and screamed in agony.
Like the warrior she is Williams hobbled through and blasted enough winners to make a game of it, going down 6-4, 6-3.
But this is the latest in a near-two year succession of injuries. Her well of resilience is deep, but how long can she keep going back to it?
‘I got to figure out my plan,’ said Williams. ‘Right now I’m in shock. I can’t believe this happened. I’ve been missing from tour for quite a while. This is not what I want for myself.
Venus Williams said she feels ‘in shock’ after hurting her knee and losing at Wimbledon Round 1
The 43-year-old Williams started well before slipping at the net and getting hurt
‘This kind of fall, I didn’t do anything wrong. I just went for the ball. Those kinds of things are hard to process emotionally, mentally and physically.’
During Novak Djokovic’s victory in the previous match on Centre Court, play was paused for an hour due to the slippery grass.
But Venus refused to blame the surface: ‘Grass is inherently going to be slippery,’ she said. ‘It was just bad luck for me.’
Williams came into this fortnight with a win in Birmingham under her belt and talking breezily about playing until age 50.
And she came out swinging on Centre Court, buffeting Svitolina with a succession of thumping groundstrokes.
‘I started the match perfectly,’ she said. ‘I was killing it, then I got killed by the grass.’
Williams’ movement was seriously impaired and she netted a succession of low volleys, clearly unable to bend her knee enough to get down to the ball.
The crowd did its best to carry her through. ‘Heart of a champion Venus,’ shouted one. ‘One point at a time, V,’ cried another.
Williams’ movement was seriously impaired after the incident that left Center Court stunned
‘It was just real challenging,’ she said. ‘I’ve played through a lot of injuries and won a lot of matches injured. It’s almost a specialty of mine. I just couldn’t figure it out today.’
Svitolina moves through to the second round where she will face Belgium’s Elise Mertens.
The 28-year-old Ukrainian has given birth to a daughter and suffered the invasion of her homeland since her last visit to Wimbledon, and has looked a woman on a mission since her return to the tour.