Venus Williams said she was “killed by grass” after the five-time champion suffered a nasty knockdown during her 6-4, 6-3 loss to Elina Svitolina in the first round of Wimbledon on Monday.
The American started strongly against her Ukrainian opponent, who reached the semifinals in 2019, winning the first two games.
But the 43-year-old slipped on the Center Court grass and fell to the ground in agony, clutching her bandaged right knee as Svitolina brought the score to 2-1.
He limped back to his chair and the coach was called, but he was able to continue.
Venus Williams fell onto the court after slipping near the net.
He returned to play after taking time off with injury. pic.twitter.com/h3zXL7Evc1
—ESPN (@espn) July 3, 2023
Williams came out aggressively, looking to fire winners, but was broken again in the fifth game as wildcard partner Svitolina took the first set 6-4.
The American had a mountain to climb after having serve broken in the first game of the second set and former world number three Svitolina repeated the feat for a 4-1 lead.
The 28-year-old, who gave birth to a girl in October and is currently ranked 76th, served for the match in game eight, but a hard-fought Williams pulled back to make it 5-3.
However, she was unable to build on her momentum as Svitolina broke again, ending the set 6-3, with the match decided on video remission.
Williams received a standing ovation as he walked off Center Court, turning and waving to the crowd.
The American, who said she did not know the extent of her injury, was optimistic after her loss.
“The grass is going to be inherently slippery,” he said. “You are going to fall at some point. It was just bad luck for me.
“I started the game perfectly. I was literally killing it, then the weed killed me.
“It’s not fun right now. I felt like I was in great shape coming into this tournament and in great shape going into the match. It’s all very shocking right now. This is sport.”
The American, who made her Wimbledon debut in 1997, was playing for the All England Club for the 24th time, the most appearances for any player in the Open era.
At the time of that first appearance, 53 of the players in the 2023 draw were yet to be born. Svitolina was only two years old.
The Ukrainian said she was happy Williams was able to continue after her knockdown and admitted she was “shocked” by the incident.
“She tried, and the champion that she is, she fought, she gave her all,” she said.
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