Venus loses in Wimbledon 1st round, 1st since ‘97
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, has fallen to 58th in the rankings since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. She lost the first five games on Court 2 to the 79th-ranked Russian and, although she picked up her game and fought hard, was never able to turn the match around.
It was the first time Williams lost in the opening round of a Grand Slam since the 2006 Australian Open- the first at Wimbledon since her debut appearance in 1997.
‘’I come into tournaments with a positive attitude,’’ Williams said. ‘’I don’t really feel like talking about my health now. It is what it is. I’m just a couple of months into getting back on tour. Life is challenging but I’m always up for a challenge.’’
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic had no opening day troubles, beating former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the first match on Centre Court. Top-seeded Maria Sharapova and six-time champ Roger Federer were also in action on a cloudy but dry opening day of the two-week grass court championships.
The 25-year-old Vesnina, who reached the fourth round here in 2009, played smart and steady baseline tennis to keep Williams at bay. It took 30 minutes before Williams won a game. But Vesnina broke right back to close out the set with a forehand winner.
The second set was much more contested, but once the Russian broke again for a 4-2 lead, she was in full control. Three games later, Vesnina cracked a big first serve on match point and Williams slapped a forehand return into the net.—AP