Venus Williams said she was “killed by the grass” after the five-time champion suffered a nasty tumble during her 6-4, 6-3 defeat to Elina Svitolina in the Wimbledon first round on Monday. The American started strongly against her Ukrainian opponent, who reached the semi-finals in 2019, winning the first two games.
But the 43-year-old slipped on the Centre Court grass and fell to the ground in agony, clutching her strapped right knee as Svitolina pulled the score back to 2-1. She limped back to her chair and the trainer was called but she was able to continue.
Williams came out aggressively, seeking to fire off winners, but was broken again in the fifth game and fellow wild card Svitolina went on to take the opening set 6-4.
The American had a mountain to climb after she was 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 the eighth game but Williams, battling hard, broke back to make the score 5-3.
However, she failed to build on her momentum as Svitolina broke again, wrapping up the set 6-3, with the match decided on a video referral. Williams was given a standing ovation as she walked off Centre Court, turning and waving to the crowd.
The American, who said she did not know the extent of her injury, was sanguine after her defeat.
“Grass is inherently going to be slippery,” she said. “You’re going to fall at some point. It was just bad luck for me. I started the match perfectly. I was literally killing it, then I got killed by the grass. It’s not fun right now. I felt like I was in great form coming into this tournament, and great form in the match. It’s all very shocking at the moment. This is sports.”
The American, who made her Wimbledon debut in 1997, was playing at 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 not yet born. Svitolina was just two years old.
The Ukrainian said she was happy that Williams could continue after her fall, admitting she was “shaken up” by the incident. She tried, and the champion she is, she fought, she gave her everything,” she said.
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The mother-of-three, who is married to rap superstar Jay-Z, put her ample cleavage on display in the low-cut PVC dress. The look had a matching jacket, and the Houston native added a pair of sheer black tights. Learn more