Serena Williams 'motivated' to carry on despite Wimbledon 2022 exit

American, 40, suffered just her third first-round loss at a Grand Slam on Tuesday, going down 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan

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Serena Williams brushed off retirement talk following her Wimbledon exit, insisting she is "just playing for right now" and that she's "motivated" to play at the US Open later this year.

The American, 40, suffered just her third first-round loss at a Grand Slam on Tuesday, going down 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan.

Williams, who was returning to singles action for the first time in 12 months, said this was not the end of the road in her quest to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam.

"The US Open was the place where I won my first Slam, it's super-special. There's definitely a lot of motivation to get better and play at home," she said.

The 23-time major winner, who debuted at the All England Club in 1998, refused to speculate on whether or not she will be back at Wimbledon in 2023.

"I am just playing for right now. I see how I feel and go from there.

"Who knows where I will pop up."

Williams walked onto Centre Court for the evening match and quickly looked rusty. She was broken in her first service game.

Williams, far below her imperious best and apparently lacking fitness, bounced back, breaking in the fourth game to level at 2-2, buoyed by a supportive crowd.

The pair swapped further breaks but Tan, ranked 115th, broke again in the 11th game and held her nerve to close out the set 7-5.

Serena Williams of in her first round match against Harmony Tan at Wimbledon. EPA

Williams broke after a mammoth second game of the second set and went on to level the match 6-1.

The American was first to break in the decider but Tan levelled at 3-3.

Williams broke again in the ninth game, throwing her arms into the air in jubilation but faltered as she served for the match.

She faced a match point on her own serve in the 12th game but saved it with a forehand volley, taking the contest into a third-set tie-break.

Williams stepped up a gear, winning the first four points as the match, under the Wimbledon roof, ticked past three hours.

But still her French opponent was not down and out, winning the next five points to edge ahead.

Williams, looking out of breath, could not find inspiration, netting when facing a second match point.

France's Harmony Tan celebrates after beating Serena Williams of the US. AP Photo

She finished with 61 winners but 54 unforced errors in the 3-hour, 11-minute evening match.

"I'm so emotional now," said Tan. "She's a superstar. When I was young, I was watching her so many times on the TV.

"When I saw the draw, I was really scared. She's such a legend. I thought if I can win one game, two games, that would be really good for me."

Williams won the last of her seven Wimbledon singles titles six years ago but reached the final in 2018 and 2019.

The American, who was given a wildcard for this year's tournament, remains stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles - agonisingly one short of Margaret Court's all-time record.

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Updated: June 29, 2022, 5:08 AM
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