PA Serena Williams.
# forced out
Serena Williams retires injured from first round match at Wimbledon
Roger Federer and Ashleigh Barty both progressed but only after overcoming scares.

AMERICAN LEGEND SERENA Williams’s dreams of winning an eighth Wimbledon singles title and equalling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam singles record of 24 ended in tears on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old was leading 3-1 in the first set of her first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus when she slipped and had to have her left ankle examined.

Williams returned from receiving medical attention but called it a day at 3-3 and walked off Centre Court in tears.

It is the first time that Williams has bowed out in the first round of Wimbledon.

The tears said it all as with the withdrawals of 2019 champion Simona Halep and of Naomi Osaka prior to the tournament, the American would have fancied her chances of at last equalling the controversial Court’s landmark.

Williams was giving the Olympics a miss anyways giving her time to recover ahead of the US Open in September which she has won six times.

“Brutal for @serenawilliams but centre court is extremely slippy out there. Not easy to move out there,” tweeted British star Andy Murray.

Williams, who also had strapping on her right thigh, hasn’t won a Slam since the 2017 Australian Open.

William’s slip came at the same end of the court as that of Adrian Mannarino which brought a premature end to the Frenchman’s hard fought match with Roger Federer.

Mannarino slipped and fell late in the fourth set and pulled out at the beginning of the fifth set.

Federer remarked he felt that the surface was more slippery when the roof is in use which it had been due to rain earlier on Tuesday.

Earlier, Swiss legend Federer and Australia’s world number one Ashleigh Barty both progressed but only after overcoming scares.

They at least were able to play to their schedule due to the roof on Centre Court but those on the outside courts had to kick their heels for several hours due to rain.

As a result 27 singles matches had to be deferred to Wednesday and men’s doubles matches will be the best of three sets in the first and second rounds as organisers try to get the schedule back on track.

Federer arrived on the back of a disappointing second round exit at Halle, a tournament he all but owns having won it 10 times but said he was pumped up for Wimbledon.

The 39-year-old eight-time singles champion looked to be more deflated than pumped up when he trailed Frenchman Adrian Mannarino by two sets to one.

However, already a break up in the fourth and looking more like the Federer of old the match turned when Mannarino tumbled towards the end of the fourth set.

His 33rd birthday turned into a nightmare as he had to retire at 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 3-6, 6-2.

wimbledon-2021-day-two-the-all-england-lawn-tennis-and-croquet-club PA Roger Federer PA

“He was the better player, he could have won, I got a bit lucky,” said Federer.

“That’s how it goes sometimes, you don’t get many walkovers and try not to have it happen to yourself.”

Barty came through 6-1, 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 against Carla Suarez Navarro in a match filled with emotion on Centre Court.

Barty’s Spanish opponent made sure her 11th and final appearance at The Championships went the distance just months after returning from a winning fight against cancer.

Barty is bidding to add the senior singles Wimbledon title to her 2011 junior crown on the 50th anniversary of her fellow indigenous Australian’s Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s first title.

Barty opened on Centre Court — an honour usually given to the defending champion — due to Simona Halep having withdrawn through injury.

The 25-year-old lost focus when serving for the match in the second set but dominated the third to go through.

However, she joined in the standing ovation for Suarez Navarro as the 32-year-old left the court with the Spaniard’s mother Maria wiping away a tear.

“She is a fighter, an incredible competitor and lovely person and I cannot find one bad word to say about her,” said Barty of her opponent.

“She is a genuine champion and will be sorely missed.”

Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev went through with a 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3) win over Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

“I was a bit surprised by the first two sets that I managed to win so easy, that’s why Grand Slams are funny,” said Medvedev.

Australian men’s number one Alex de Minaur lost in four sets to Sebastian Korda, two days after the victor’s sister Nelly won her first golf major.

Barty’s fiery and entertaining compatriot Nick Kyrgios is scheduled to start his campaign later on Tuesday against Frenchman Ugo Humbert.

The Australian beat Humbert in a five set thriller in the Australian Open earlier this year but the Frenchman has shown his class on grass with victory at Halle.

Humbert’s compatriot Benoit Paire did not escape the ire of the match umpire in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 defeat by Diego Schwartzman.

He received a warning from the umpire for not trying as two sets down overnight he lost the third 6-0 in just 15 minutes.

One spectator was moved to shout at the disinterested Frenchman “Stop wasting our time.”

© – AFP, 2021

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