In the 15 years since losing in her first match at Wimbledon, Venus Williams won five titles at the All England Club and established herself as one of the greatest grass-court players in tennis history. She hadn't lost another first-round match at Wimbledon ... until Monday.
Williams was ousted in the opening round of Wimbledon for the first time since 1997, losing to Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-3. It was Williams' worst loss at the tournament and only her fourth first-round loss in her Grand Slam career.
Venus lost the first five games of the match and barely challenged the Russian the rest of the way. She looked every bit like an unseeded 32-year-old and nothing like the dark-horse contender she figured to be on her most dominant surface.
Those four games she won, coupled with the five games she won in each of her last two losses at the event, suggest a downturn that indicates Venus' days of contending on her best surface could be long gone.
Not that she's willing to admit it. When asked by reporters about her future status, she refused to rule out a return to Wimbledon in 2013. "Life is challenging but I'm always up for a challenge," she said.
Next up for Venus will be the Olympic competition, which will be played on the same courts as Wimbledon.
It will be said that she's done, that she's too old and has too many health issues and hasn't had a great result at a Grand Slam in nearly half a decade. Bury her career, if you must. But do so at your own peril. Until Venus Williams puts away the racquet, she'll always be a threat to make noise at any tournament on a fast surface.
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