He returned on an afternoon that became night on that stage that he made his own and in which he garnered ovations for many years. Serena Williamson the verge of retirement after almost a season without playing, returned to Wimbledon. But the return did not have that ending that the thousands of fans expected. At 40 years old, the former number 1 in the world appeared at the Cathedral with a defeat against the French Harmony Tan by 7-5, 1-6 7-6 (10-7), in a tremendous battle of 3 hours and 10 minutes.
Serena, owner of 23 Grand Slam titles, I haven’t played for a year, since he had to withdraw due to injury in the first round of Wimbledon, against Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Invited by the organization, accepted the wild card, and prepared with a pair of doubles encounters alongside Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur on the previous grass-court tour. And the draw for the main draw arranged for this matchup with Harmony Tan, ranked 115th in the world, who at 24 had barely won a couple of matches in her entire career at Grand Slam tournaments.
Tennis is not an exact science: without knowing the names, the number 115 was a wide favorite before the 1204 -the current ranking of the American-, but those numbers blurred when Serena appeared on the court’s plate with her aura of a living legend of women’s tennis. Even clearer: Williams, at 16, was already a professional player in 1997, when Tan was not yet born…
In the more than three hours of play, Williams seemed to suffer in several passages, as you can only suffer in high competition; even let out a few tears in a change of sides. He seemed to go through all the emotions that can go around during a game, from the euphoria of winning a hoot, to the anger over those unusual misses. He recovered his competitive memory to give everything until the end, and not give up in complex moments. She went to look for the game as always, true to her essence as a champion. But he was match-point down by throwing a simple volley very far, at 5-6 and 30-30 in the third. He escaped that trance with a powerful volley, after a right down the line with which he opened the point. Shortly after, in the super tie-break he got to be 4-1 in the account, but gave up four points in a row and the outcome was uphill. He took a 6-5 lead with a spectacular volley that lifted the stadium. On the other side, Tan didn’t shrink, puhe kept the ball in play and waited for his chance, in a battle between Serena’s constant search for and the oriental patience of the Frenchwoman to await the rival ruling. A long forehand into the corner and a backhand into the net marked the end. Serena finished the match with 5 aces -a low mark for her serve-, 61 game winners and 54 unforced errors. She only took 6 of the 17 break-points that she had.
“I’m so excited. She’s a superstar, I’ve seen her play many times. Today I played with a lot of nerves. All of this is surprising to me. When I saw the painting I was very scared, I saw that I had to play against a legend, and I thought: Oh God, now what am I going to do?What if I win one or two games and nothing else? That could be the best thing that could happen to me”, said Tan, who is trained by the French Nathalie Tauziat. But she was patient worked every point, knew how to move a rival who came from a long inactivityand achieved the most resounding victory of his career.
Serena she knew how to be champion of this tournament seven times since his first appearance in 1998. On his long absence, he commented, “I didn’t retire. I needed to heal physically and mentally, I had no plans, it’s just that I didn’t know when I would make my return and in what state I would return.
In his first appearance, together with Ons Jabeur, he drew attention to the ribbons he wore over his face. He wore them again during his practices in Wimbledon and the questions were not long in appearing. serene suffer from sinusitisillness that he declared to have in 2007, and these tapes (plastersin English) are a palliative for your pain. As he stated some time ago, Difficulty breathing during your practices puts pressure on your face that annoys, hurts. That is why, with these tapes, he seems to have found a way to feel more relieved.
He had to say goodbye early. The desire to be champion again and the mission to win a 24th Grand Slam title to match Margaret Court’s all-time record remains outstanding. She will see how she follows her career, three months after her 41st birthday.