Serena Williams lost in a first-round by Harmony Tan of France, going down 7-5 1-6 7-6 (7) in a deciding tie-break at 10.35pm after three hours and 10 minutes.
Serena was rusty and error-prone after stepping playing singles for the first time since leaving Centre Court prematurely and in tears after suffering a hamstring injury in the opening round 12 months ago.
The 40 year old came from a set down and saved a match point in the 12th game of the decider. But instead Williams suffered just her third first-round loss at a grand slam.
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.”
“I think physically I did pretty good,” said Williams. “I think the last couple of points, I was really suffering there. But I feel like in just those key points, winning some of those points, is always something mentally that you kind of need. I did pretty good on maybe one or two of them, but obviously not enough.”
“It definitely makes me want to hit the practice courts,” she said. “I feel that it’s actually kind of like, ‘OK, Serena, you can do this if you want’. When you’re at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I’ve won a grand slam, is something that’s always super special. There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.”
Asked if she could be satisfied with Tuesday’s loss being her final Wimbledon memory, she said: “Obviously not. You know me. Definitely not.
“But today I gave all I could do. Maybe tomorrow I could have given more. Maybe a week ago I could have given more. But today was what I could do. At some point, you have to be able to be OK with that.”