It was Tuesday's first round match at Wimbledon. Williams was aware that her stay was coming to an end at the tournament where she won seven of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles, but she had already hurt her right leg after she lost her footing from behind a baseline.
Her legs buckled shortly after she attempted to change direction to chase down a shot from her opponent, Aliaksandra Ssnovich, 100th in Belarus. Williams fell to her knees and landed on her head on the grass. Williams used her racket to assist her standing, but she only did so to limp to the net to concede -- the second mid-match retirement at any Grand Slam event in her career and the first since 1998.
Williams stated that he was "heartbroken" to have to withdraw from the tournament.
She said that "Feeling this extraordinary warmth and support from the crowd today as I walked on --and off -- the court" meant the world to her.
Sasnovich said: "She is a great champion, but it's (a sad) story."
Roger Federer was sure to share a common sentiment after being told by a reporter about Williams's death.
He said, "Oh, my God." It's unbelievable.
Williams was serving at Centre Court, where the retractable roof was closed due to rain. Williams was leading 3-1. Williams lost her left shoe's traction as she hit a forehand.
Williams winced, and moved gingerly between the points, clearly in pain. She dropped the game and asked for a trainer.
She continued to play. The crowd offered support and encouragement. The 39-year old American was unable to continue. The chair umpire came down to check on Williams and they walked up to the net together.
Williams began the match taped on her right thigh. She raised her racket with her right arm and placed her left hand on her chest. She waved at the spectators.
Officially, Williams has now lost her second Grand Slam first round match. She was defeated by Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open. Williams soon joined forces with Patrick Mouratoglou, her coach, and began to accumulate majors in an effort to surpass Steffi Graf's professional record of 22 years and be within one of Margaret Courts' all-era marks of 24.
"All the very best to her," said Sasnovich who, in 2018, reached the fourth round of Wimbledon for her best Grand Slam result.
Williams' departure leaves a wide-open draw for women even more open. The tournament began as expected, and the defending champion Simona Halep and four-time major champ Naomi Osaka pulled out before it started.
Williams, who will be turning 40 in September, was still a top contender. She was known for her powerful serve and devastating groundstrokes. Williams had reached the Wimbledon finals in the previous four years of her entry. In 2015, she won the title. In 2016, she missed the tournament due to pregnancy in 2017. In 2018, she finished as the runner up. The tournament was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.
Williams wasn't the only one to struggle with the slick grass during the first two days main-draw play.
Eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer won the match in the main stadium. He was injured in the fourth set by Adrian Mannarino after he fell in the same spot Williams did.
Federer trailed two sets to one but was ahead 4-2 in set four when Mannarino lost. He attempted to continue, but dropped eight of the nine points.
Federer admitted that "Obviously", he was the superior player.
Novak Djokovic also fell twice in Monday's first round victory at Centre Court.
"I feel it feels a little more slippery under the roof. It could be a gut feeling or a more serious issue. It is important to be careful out there. Federer stated that pushing too hard at the wrong times can cause you to fall. It does feel drier during the day. It takes the moisture out of the grass because of wind and other things. This is clearly terrible.
This was the most important development Tuesday. The winners were Williams' older sister Venus (41 years old), 17-yearold Coco Gauff and Barbora Krejcikova, who is the reigning French Open champion. No. 1 seed Ash Barty was in the women's bracket. 2 Daniil Medvedev (No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 10 Denis Shapovalov, in the men's.
Sebastian Korda -- A 20-year old American who was born Petr Korda, and whose sister, No. #1 ranked Nelly, and No. 13 Jessica are on the LPGA Tour and have made a great Wimbledon debut. 15 seed Alex de Minaur won 6-3,6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6 (5).
Venus Williams managed to accumulate 10 aces while smacking serves at speeds of up to 114 mph. It's not as fast as the old days but it isn't too bad. She drove from corners to forehands. She found her way to the net for crisp shots.
After the match was over, she raised her arms to celebrate her first Wimbledon win since 2018, before reviving her smile-and-twirl gesture at No. 3 Court.
Five-time All England Club singles champion, Williams' elder sister, is making her 23rd appearance at this event. She began her record-extending 90th Grand Slam tourney with her career-defining victory at Wimbledon 7-5, 4-6 and 6-3.
Venus Williams was a former No. This week's No. 1-ranked player was ranked 111th, having lost in either the first or second round at eight majors. This included a loss in the first round at the All England Club against a 15-year-old Gauff.
"You cannot win them all. It's about how you deal with challenges. Every point on the court is a challenge. Venus Williams, who was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome a decade ago, said that no one can give her anything. It is an autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain and fatigue. "I like to think that I can handle my challenges well.