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Following a disheartening defeat in the opening round of Wimbledon, tennis living legend Venus Williams candidly discussed the unforeseen knee injury she sustained during her match against Elina Svitolina.
In her 24th appearance on Centre Court, at the age of 43, Williams initially demonstrated control over her match against Svitolina. However, her fortunes took a turn for the worse when she experienced an excruciating fall near the net while executing a backhand volley in the third game.
Emitting a resounding shriek, Williams clutched her already bandaged right knee and remained on the ground in agony for several minutes before opting to continue playing.
Despite the intense pain, Williams demonstrated tremendous resolve and completed the remainder of the match, while utilizing two medical timeouts. Regrettably, she ultimately succumbed to a 6–4, 6–3 loss.
Upon reflecting on the day’s events, Williams conveyed her initial belief in having a strong start to the match and feeling excellent leading up to it. Some observers posit that the preceding rain shower may have contributed to the grass becoming slick, leading to Williams losing her footing.
Venus Williams remarked, “I was literally killing it, then I got killed by the grass.”
Throughout the match, Williams grappled with her mobility. A visible decline in her speed and power became evident following her fall. Renowned for her serve and ability to pound the ball across the court, Williams relies on her lower body as leverage to execute powerful returns.
The pain in her knee significantly impacted her ability to generate the necessary torque while serving. According to an article by The New York Times, Williams’ first serve of the match clocked an impressive 115 miles per hour, whereas her serves following the injury ranged in the 90s.
The match reached its conclusion when Svitolina successfully challenged a call that had initially been ruled out. The overturned call ultimately sealed Williams’ defeat. Clearly dissatisfied, Williams walked past the chair umpire shaking her head, electing not to offer a handshake.
As Venus Williams exited the court, she was met with a standing ovation.
In the aftermath of her loss, Williams took to Instagram to convey how she was feeling. In her post, she expressed her surprise upon reviewing pictures taken at the end of the match, as she couldn’t fathom how she managed to muster a smile despite being overwhelmed by negative emotions.
Williams lamented, ” I felt like everything slipped away from me so quickly and I was disappointed that I wasn’t stronger to pull out the match despite the circumstances.”
Acknowledging her inclination to cry, Williams stressed her belief that shedding tears would not have aided her in overcoming this defeat and moving forward.
She firmly stated, “I believe in less crying and more working.”
Concluding her post, Williams emphasized the importance of being a gracious competitor and affording one’s opponent the experience of victory when rightfully earned. This particular aspect of her post ignited controversy, as some felt that Williams had failed to exhibit good sportsmanship following her loss. Many criticized her for declining to shake the umpire’s hand after the match and subsequently posting about the significance of sportsmanship.
Notwithstanding the disapproval expressed towards Williams’ actions following her loss, she received an overwhelming outpouring of support from fans who were heartened to learn that she intended to assess her injury in the hopes of returning even stronger.
While the question of retirement may surface in the ensuing months, given Williams’ age and history of injuries, she left the door open to the possibility of continuing her career.
She divulged that after the match, she retreated to the locker room, taking time to contemplate her next steps. She expressed that she used that time, “to figure out what I could learn from this and plotting how I was going to be better.”