A year after her serious hamstring injury, Serena Williams returns to Wimbledon. However, the fans hope in vain for a triumphant comeback: the tennis queen is far from her former form.
Serena Williams had already celebrated as if she had won Wimbledon. On your knees with both arms in the air. And yet she had to suffer one of her most bitter defeats a little later on the Sacred Lawn of Center Court. After a year off, Williams lost to French outsider Harmony Tan 5-7, 6-1, 6-7 (7-10).
In her spectacular comeback over 3:11 hours, the 23-time Grand Slam winner delivered a drama that the tennis world had had to do without for a long time. And brave Tan, number 115 in the world and a debutante at Wimbledon, played more than just a supporting role.
But the truth also belongs: For long stretches, Williams was just a shadow of the great tennis player of the past, of whom Tan still said in disbelief in the winning interview: "She's such a superstar. When I was little, I always saw her on TV. That's just wow!"
But only now and then Williams' skills flashed - and the audience always cheered. It wanted a continuation of the spectacle that has kept the All England Club in suspense for days. It wanted to whip Williams to victory. But Tan successfully fought back. When the thriller reached its climax in the tiebreak, she kept her nerve.
It was Williams' 21st tournament at Church Road. Last year she slipped on Center Court and retired injured. But she wanted to do it again, at the age of 40, with a daughter, an investment company and all the obligations that life as a superstar in the USA entails. Including: Appearances at the Oscars or the Met Gala.
The only thing she didn't play again was tennis until just before Wimbledon, when she returned in doubles at Eastbourne. Nevertheless, doubts remained about their form. Tan knew about the weaknesses in footwork, she knew that the seven-time Wimbledon champion could no longer be the outstanding player she once was. And she had nothing to lose.
Williams and Tan had to wait a bit, Rafael Nadal had made it exciting and needed three and a half hours for his four-set win on Center Court. Then the stage finally belonged to Williams again, who won one more major title than the Spaniard.
Watching in the box were husband Alexis Ohanian, sister Venus and mother Oracene. Very calm at first, then more and more tense. In the end, Williams had to congratulate Tan at the net, who could hardly believe her triumph at first.