Harmony Tan's unexpected first-round singles win over Serena Williams at Wimbledon prompted her to quit the doubles tournament, leading to a social media rant from her partner, who suggested she was not cut out for professional tennis.

Tan had entered the doubles draw alongside Tamara Korpatsch, with their first-round match against Raluca Olaru and Nadiia Kichenok set for Wednesday.

But Tan perhaps had not expected to be playing late into Tuesday evening and then to have a second-round singles contest to prepare for against Sara Sorribes Tormo on Thursday.

The Frenchwoman came through an epic back-and-forth on Centre Court to beat seven-time champion Williams – in singles action for the first time in almost a year – 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7).

Tan gained little sympathy from Korpatsch, however, with the German out of the singles competition on Monday following a three-set defeat to Heather Watson.

"Unfortunately my doubles partner H. Tan retired from our doubles today," Korpatsch wrote on her Instagram page.

"She just texted me this morning. Let me wait here one hour before the match start.

"I'm very sad, disappointed and also very angry that I can't play my first doubles grand slam. And it's really not fair for me. I didn't deserve that.

"She asked me before the tournament if we wanna play doubles and I said yes, I didn't ask her, she asked me!

"If you're broken after a three-hour match the day before, you can't play professional. That's my opinion."

Korpatsch's frustration continued on her Instagram story, where she had initially revealed the news, suggesting she was capable of playing more than six hours one day and still taking to the court the next.

She later added: "Thanks for all your comments. But I would like to say: I don't hate my doubles partner for withdrawing. I just want to share my feelings and opinion about my situation.

"If I'm still competing in singles, I would still feel and do the same. I wanted to play my first doubles grand slam. That was my chance.

"Yesterday she [Tan] was so motivated to me, and I was happy about our doubles.

"But just today in the morning getting this message feels very painful. It's not a WTA tournament, which I can play almost every week. It's a grand slam."

Serena Williams "gave all I could" in an epic first-round Wimbledon defeat to Harmony Tan and could not assure fans she would be back on Centre Court again.

Williams is a seven-time Wimbledon champion – only Martina Navratilova has won the championships on more occasions in the Open Era – but her last championship victory came back in 2016.

There have been two final appearances since then but also now consecutive first-round exits, having retired with a hamstring tear against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in 2021; previously in her remarkable career, Williams had fallen at the final hurdle only once at any major.

Tuesday's battle with Tan was her first singles match since that injury, and Williams certainly did not lack spirit, recovering from losing the first set to dominate the second and then take control of the third, too.

Twice in the decider she led by a break, attempting to serve for the match at 5-4, only to be broken back.

Williams was then required to hold serve – and fend off a match point – to reach a tie-break, in which she led 4-0.

But Tan reeled off the next five points and eventually prevailed 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) from the sort of titanic tussle Williams – now 40 and "really suffering" by the end – may not see again.

"That's a question I can't answer," she replied when asked if this was her last Wimbledon appearance. "I don't know. Who knows where I'll pop up?"

Williams "obviously" did not want this to be her lasting memory of the grass-court major. "You know me," she said. "Definitely not."

But the American added: "I gave all I could do. Maybe tomorrow I could have given more. Maybe a week ago I could have given more. But today was what I could do.

"At some point, you have to be able to be okay with that."

However, while her Wimbledon future is clearly in doubt, Williams appeared to suggest a US Open tilt later this year was highly likely.

"When you're at home, especially in New York and that being the place I first won a grand slam, it is always special," she said.

"There's always motivation to get better and play at home."

Serena Williams' hopes of a winning a record-equalling 24th grand slam title at Wimbledon are over after she was beaten by the unheralded Harmony Tan in an epic first-round match.

Williams went down 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) on Centre Court in her first singles match since being forced to withdraw in the opening round of last year's tournament at the All England Club, when she suffered a hamstring injury during a contest with Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion's much-heralded comeback proved to be an almighty battle and it was the SW19 debutant from France who came out on top late on Tuesday evening.

It took outsider Tan three hours and 11 minutes to claim a huge scalp, winning what could prove to be the great Williams' final singles match at Wimbledon.

Tan broke three times in a back-and-forth first set, with Williams unable to keep her at bay during the seventh game despite the world number 115 seeing three break points come and go before winning the fourth.

The underdog's slice in particular proved to be difficult for the 40-year-old - 16 years senior to her opponent - to counter, and the former world number one seemed to need the break afforded by the roof closure on Centre Court to regather herself.

Williams stamped her authority on the match in the second set to force a decider, breaking twice as she surged into a 5-0 lead before serving it out.

Tan refused to be beaten in the final set, twice breaking back to frustrate Williams. 

Williams was able to force a tie-break after saving a match point, and surged into a 4-0 lead - but Tan rallied once more to seize back the momentum, and celebrated a famous win after her legendary opponent netted a forehand.

Data slam: Agony for battling Williams

Williams declared that she would not have competed at Wimbledon if she did not feel she was capable of winning the tournament, but she fell at the first hurdle in a thriller.

In what was her 420th grand slam match, the veteran played her first final-set tie-break and looked destined to come out on top before Tan roared back. Victory for Tan ensured Williams remains one major crown shy of the record held by Margaret Court.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Tan– 29/28
Williams – 61/54

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Tan – 3/3
Williams – 5/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Tan – 5/15
Williams – 6/17

Harmony Tan admitted she feared the prospect of facing a 23-time grand slam winner after defeating Serena Williams at Wimbledon on Tuesday.

It took Tan three hours and 11 minutes to claim the scalp of the seven-time Wimbledon winner, eventually winning the match 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7).

The SW19 debutant twice broke back in the third set, even setting up a match point which Williams saved before the eventual tie-break, and rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the tie-break to emerge victorious.

Despite the resolve shown and delight with the win on Centre Court at the All England Club, the 24-year-old revealed she nervously came into the contest.

"[Serena] is a superstar and when I was young I was watching her so many times on the TV," Tan said post-match. "For my first Wimbledon, it's wow. Just wow.

"When I saw the draw, I was really scared. Because, yeah, it's Serena Williams. She's a legend and I was like, 'Oh my God, how can I play?' If I could win one game or two games, it was really good for me.

"I would like to thank everybody today and my team and my coach Nathalie Tauziat, who also played Serena. Thank you so much for being with me."

Tan will now face 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, who defeated American qualifier Christina McHale 6-2 6-1.

Pam Shriver says Serena Williams has built an "all-time great legacy" in tennis and expressed her relief that the legendary American will make her comeback at Wimbledon.

Williams has 23 grand slam singles titles to her name and is just one short of Margaret Court's all-time record as the 40-year prepares to return to The All England Club as a wildcard.

She has not played a singles match since suffering an ankle injury in last year's Wimbledon opener against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Seven-time Wimbledon singles champion Williams will face world number 113 Harmony Tan in the first round on Tuesday, hoping to prove doubters wrong once again.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach the singles final at SW19 and in 2016 she became the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber.

Shriver, who reached the last four at Wimbledon in 1981, 1987 and 1988, cannot wait to see Williams back on court at the grass-court major.

"It's fantastic. I mean a month ago, I said it in interviews during Paris [the French Open], it just didn't look likely, there were no signs that were pointing towards her coming back," Shriver told Stats Perform.

"She hadn't posted anything of her workouts, never said anything about it. She'd sort of hinted at it sort of playful way like with a post with Aaron Rodgers, one of our best quarterbacks here.

"And she had sort of put it out there that she was going to play Wimbledon, but then it was like, okay, but who are you working with? Where are you practising? How much are you? Or how much time are you putting into it?

"You're going to go 12 months without a singles match and just rock up at Wimbledon. But it is great news that our last sighting of Serena on the tennis court isn't her limping off Centre Court last year midway through a first set."

 

Williams' first major title came 23 years ago at the US Open and Shriver has hailed her compatriot's astonishing longevity.

"It's an all-time great legacy, starting in 1999 when she won her first major as a 17-year-old at the US Open, upsetting [Martina] Hingis on Arthur Ashe Court," she added.

"She was the first of the Williams sisters to win a singles major. She's been making history since the late 1990s.

"She is now entering her fourth decade of trying to make history on the court and I think it's been exciting to have watched most of it.

"[There are] little things that are so impressive, her Olympic record, incredible. The way she won the gold medal in London in 2012 was as dominant a performance I've ever seen on a foreign tennis court.

"She and Venus are 14-0 in major doubles finals. So look, if you compare her numbers to Martina Navratilova’s numbers, tournament wins-wise, then Martina blows Serena away.

"But that was back in an era where the intent was to play a lot more and there was more of an emphasis placed on tour titles. During Serena’s 20-odd-year career, the emphasis the entire time has been on how many majors can you win. And that's what she's been focused on, especially in the last 10 years."

Five-time singles champion Venus Williams showed up at Wimbledon on the eve of the championships, sparking speculation over what role she will play.

The 42-year-old American has played just one tournament since losing to Ons Jabeur in the second round at Wimbledon last year.

That lone appearance came at the Chicago Open in August, when she was beaten in her opening match by Hsieh Su-wei.

Williams has not made a retirement announcement, and it may be that she intends to play an active part in Wimbledon, although she has not entered the women's singles or women's doubles.

The American great has seven grand slams among her 49 career singles titles and has won six Wimbledon doubles crowns with sister Serena Williams, among their 14 slams as sport's greatest sister act.

One avenue that may be open to Venus is mixed doubles. She was not listed on Wimbledon's entry list for the invitational doubles, an event for veterans. The mixed doubles line-up has yet to be revealed.

Williams was pictured at Wimbledon by a Getty photographer at the All England Club, carrying a red sports bag, and later in the evening posted on Instagram that she was at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at London Stadium.

Serena has entered the singles on a wildcard, having made her competitive comeback on doubles duty alongside Jabeur at Eastbourne after being absent from the tour since last year's Wimbledon. She is a seven-time singles champion at London's grass-court grand slam.

Serena Williams stands every chance of going on a winning run at Wimbledon, according to Ons Jabeur, who would love to meet the 23-time grand slam champion in the final.

Williams teamed up with Jabeur to play doubles at the Eastbourne International in the past week, the American's first competitive tennis since being forced to retire from a first-round clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon last year.

Seven-time Wimbledon singles queen Williams has not won a grand slam since 2017's Australian Open, and has lost two finals at SW19 during the drought, to Angelique Kerber in 2018 and Simona Halep in 2019.

Third seed Jabeur expects the 40-year-old WTA superstar to give a positive account of herself when she gets her Wimbledon campaign under way against Harmony Tan on Tuesday.

"I feel Serena was playing well and moving well. I think she can win matches at Wimbledon," Jabeur said in a BBC Sport column.

"We were put in opposite sides of the draw so that means we couldn't play until the final. That's okay - I'll send her to Iga Swiatek's half instead and leave the possibility of those two great players facing each other.

"I, for sure, didn't want to play her in the first round. You don't want to play Serena, especially at Wimbledon. But if it did happen then it would be amazing to play her and that would add another thing to the dream list for me."

 

Jabeur gets her own campaign under way when she faces Sweden's Mirjam Bjorklund on Monday, and believes the confidence gained from playing alongside Williams could prove crucial in her bid for a first title at this level.

"Playing with Serena Williams in the doubles at Eastbourne last week was an unbelievable experience and one which gives me added confidence as I try my best to win my first grand slam title at Wimbledon," Jabeur said.

"If she sees me as a great player and looks at me in that way then I can see myself that way, too."

Jabeur has never played a singles match against Williams, but having the chance to star alongside her surpassed that, allowing the Tunisian to get an insight into the mind of the great champion.

"The whole experience means I feel like I am the luckiest player in the world," said 27-year-old Jabeur.

When Wimbledon ended last year, there were two great takeaways from the tournament: Novak Djokovic would soon be pulling away in the grand slam title race and Ash Barty was beginning a new era of dominance.

Both seemed to be knock-ins, and yet neither has come to pass. Djokovic missed out on a calendar Grand Slam in New York before being banished from Australia, and despite drawing level with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 grand slams with his Centre Court triumph, he now finds himself two adrift of the Spaniard again.

Barty, meanwhile, has left her own party. The then world number one stunned the tennis world by retiring in March, having added the Australian Open she so craved to her trophy cabinet.

Djokovic and Iga Swiatek head into Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, as the top seeds.

Stats Perform has used Opta facts to consider what the men's and women's singles might deliver.

 

KING ROGER'S REIGN IS OVER, BUT DJOKOVIC AND NADAL KEEP GOING STRONG

There will come a time when the Wimbledon favourite is not one of the 'Big Three'. That time is not now.

Djokovic is the man most likely, as he targets his fourth straight Wimbledon title and seventh overall; since 2011, when he beat Nadal in the final, the Serbian has only been absent from the trophy match three times (in 2012, 2016 and 2017).

His winning run of 21 matches at Wimbledon is the fifth-longest in the men's singles. Bjorn Borg holds the record (41 between 1976 and 1981).

The last player other than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray to win the Wimbledon men's title was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. Federer is absent this year and may have played his last Wimbledon.

Nadal has won Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010. He won the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, the only season of his career when he has won three slams. This year, at the age of 36, he has the Australian and French Open trophies already locked away, potentially halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, last achieved in men's singles in 1969 by Rod Laver.

Should Nadal pull off another major coup, it would make him only the second man in the Open Era (from 1968) to win the season's first three singles slams, after Laver in 1969 and Djokovic last year.

Can the rest hope to compete?

What of Murray? Well, only Federer (19), Sampras (10), Laver and Jimmy Connors (both nine) have won more ATP titles on grass than the Scot in the Open Era. If he recovers from an abdominal strain, he has a shot at reaching the second week. He will of course have the full backing of the Wimbledon crowd.

Last year's runner-up Matteo Berrettini is fancied more than Nadal by many, having won Stuttgart and Queen's Club titles in the build-up.

There has not been an American men's singles champion since 2000, and although the United States has six players seeded, more than any other nation, it seems a safe enough assumption we will be saying a similar thing again in 12 months' time.

Third seed Casper Ruud has never won a singles match at Wimbledon, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has not had a win since reaching the fourth round in 2018. Daniil Medvedev, the world number one, cannot compete at The All England Club after their contentious decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

IF SERENA CAN'T CHALLENGE SWIATEK, WHO CAN?

From the jaws of retirement, Serena Williams is back. Silence from the 40-year-old about her intentions had become almost deafening, and yet here she is, back at Wimbledon on a wildcard, hoping to rekindle the old magic.

Because she has pushed back against the doubters for over two decades now, you have to take this seriously. Her haul of 23 grand slams is one short of Margaret Court's all-time record and Williams would dearly love to at least match it.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber.

Only four women in the draw this year besides Williams have been champion before: Petra Kvitova (in 2011 and 2014), Garbine Muguruza (in 2017), Kerber (in 2018) and Halep (in 2019).

World number one Iga Swiatek starts as favourite. Junior Wimbledon champion four years ago, she has scooped two women's French Open titles since then and is on a 35-match winning streak.

After triumphing at Roland Garros in early June, Swiatek will hope to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 (Australian Open and US Open) to win two singles slams in the same season.

The only competitive warm-up for Williams came in two doubles matches at Eastbourne, having not played since sustaining a hamstring injury at Wimbledon last year. The seven-time champion might consider it a challenge that there has never been an unseeded Wimbledon women's singles finalist during the Open Era.

The women's top two seeds have not met in the final since Serena faced her sister Venus in the 2002 title match, so don't hold your breath for a Swiatek versus Anett Kontaveit showpiece on July 9.

Could Gauff be best of the rest?

Coco Gauff made a breakthrough with her run to the French Open final. Although she was blown away by Swiatek, for the 18-year-old American it was another mark of progress. Gauff reached the fourth round in Wimbledon in 2019 (lost to Halep) and 2021 (lost to Kerber).

Fitness is likely to be the key factor in how US Open champion Emma Raducanu fares at her home grand slam, given her injury problems. Raducanu reached the fourth round on a wildcard last year and the 19-year-old will attempt to become the first British woman to reach that stage in back-to-back seasons since Jo Durie (1984, 1985).

Ons Jabeur, meanwhile, should not be discounted. The world number three reached the quarter-finals at SW19 last year and heads to Wimbledon having won on grass at the Berlin Open, albeit Belinda Bencic had retired hurt in the final.

The likes of Gauff, Raducanu and 21-year-old Swiatek will attempt to become the youngest woman to lift the trophy since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova triumphed in 2004.

A first-round exit for Swiatek would leave the event wide open, but don't count on it. In the Open Era, only three times has the top-seeded woman lost in round one: Steffi Graf in 1994 and Martina Hingis in 1999 and 2001.

Limping off Centre Court with a torn hamstring while fighting tears is not how Serena Williams wants to remember Wimbledon.

Williams has not featured in a competitive singles match since she suffered that injury in SW19 in 2021, but the 23-time grand slam champion is making her comeback at the All England Club.

The 40-year-old has seven Wimbledon singles titles under her belt, the most recent of which came in 2016, while she reached the final in 2018 and 2019, only to lose to Angelique Kerber and Serena Halep.

Now, having put her hamstring issue behind her, Williams is determined to create a new lasting memory in London.

"Yeah, it was a lot of motivation, to be honest," she told reporters on Saturday when reflecting on how her previous Wimbledon campaign ended.

"It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind. So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that.

"You never want any match to end like that. It's really unfortunate."

Williams returned to competition last week, playing doubles with Ons Jabeur in Eastbourne, and makes her highly anticipated return to Wimbledon facing Harmony Tan, a 24-year-old from France who is ranked 113th.

 

Despite being just one short of Margaret Court's long-standing record haul of 24 majors, Williams is not making any lofty predictions as to how far she can go at Wimbledon.

"I have high goals, but also... I don't know," she said. "We'll see."

If she beats Tan, Williams might then face Sara Sorribes Tormo, and if she can get past her, she would likely then play sixth seed Karolina Pliskova, the former world number one who was the runner-up to Ash Barty at last year's Wimbledon and also a finalist at the 2016 US Open.

Williams was hoping to play at Flushing Meadows last year but needed more time to heal mentally and physically.

"I felt like last year was tough," she said. "I felt like I was injured for most of the year. Then I ripped my hamstring. That was tough. I don't think anyone ever wants to do that. So, in general, the whole experience was rough.

"Then, from there, I still tried to make New York. I gave everything I could, just every day getting ready or trying to make it. But then it's just like: I'm not going to make it, hung up my racquets for a little bit until I could just heal."

The thought of retiring never entered her mind during her time away from the game, however. In addition to recovering, she spent the last year getting in the right frame of mind.

"I didn't retire," Williams said. "I just needed to heal physically, mentally. And yeah, I had no plans, to be honest.

"I just didn't know when I would come back. I didn't know how I would come back. Obviously Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just kind of worked out."

Serena Williams' presence at Wimbledon has left world number one Iga Swiatek "pretty overwhelmed".

Williams is making her long-awaited return to action at the All England Club, as the 40-year-old takes another shot at matching Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam victories.

The American has played only two competitive matches – both alongside Ons Jabeur in the doubles at the Eastbourne International – since she sustained a hamstring tear at last year's Wimbledon, but is back on a wildcard.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber, although it seems a long shot for her to be challenging for honours this time around.

That is in part due to the remarkable form of top seed Swiatek, who heads to SW19 on the back of a 35-match winning streak that she is aiming to extend.

The Pole was not born when Williams made her Wimbledon debut in 1998, but she was the junior champion at the All England Club in 2018 and has since won the French Open twice. She is aiming to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 to win two singles slams in the same season.

Yet Swiatek remains in awe of Williams.

"I saw her yesterday, I was pretty overwhelmed," said Swiatek in a news conference on Saturday.

"I didn't know how to react. I wanted to meet her. I saw that she had so many people around her. I don't know her team. It was pretty weird.

"But just seeing her around is great because she's such a legend, there's nobody that has done so much in tennis.

"I'm pretty sure that she's going to be in good shape because she has so much experience coming back from breaks or just playing in grand slams. I think she can use it."

Swiatek has never progressed past the fourth round of the singles at Wimbledon and will be making her first appearance of the season on grass when she takes on Jana Fett on Tuesday.

"Honestly I still feel like I need to figure out grass," she said. "Last year for sure, it was that kind of tournament where I didn't know what to expect.

"Then match by match I realised maybe I can do more and more.

"I didn't have a lot of time to prepare. But I'm just trying to stay open-minded and kind of take positives from the situation and realise that I can play without any expectations."

Rafael Nadal is halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, a feat that would mark the crowning point of any player's career.

Yet the Spanish great does not have to look far back into history to see how quickly that dream can be scuppered, with Novak Djokovic having fallen agonisingly short of a sweep of all four majors only last year.

As perhaps the most grounded player in tennis, Nadal heads into Wimbledon well aware that winning the first two majors of the year is no guarantee of any future success.

At the age of 36, and with a foot problem that requires careful maintenance, it would be arguably the most remarkable feat in the Open Era if Nadal were to add the Wimbledon and US Open titles to his Australian Open and French Open triumphs.

Such dominance is scarce in tennis, and Rod Laver was the last player to scoop all four men's singles titles at the majors, all the way back in 1969.

Steffi Graf won all four on the women's side in 1988, and it seemed a knock-in that Serena Williams would do likewise in 2015 when she headed to the US Open with three majors already bagged.

But Williams famously came unstuck when she faced Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals, while Djokovic went even closer in 2021, losing to Daniil Medvedev in the final at Flushing Meadows.

Here, Stats Perform examines the daunting challenge of scooping all four slams consecutively.


WHAT THE GREAT CHAMPIONS SAY

Before tennis reached its Open Era, which marked the dawning of professionalism on the tour, Laver won his first calendar Grand Slam in 1962.

He said later, quoted by the Tennis Hall of Fame: "It was a thrill to come off the court knowing I had won all four majors in one year. But I never felt like I was the best, never felt that way. I just happened to have a good year."

His 1969 dominance came a year after Laver returned to the majors, following a five-year exile while he played professional tennis elsewhere. When the majors allowed professionals to compete alongside the amateurs, 'Rocket Rod' was again unstoppable.

Laver turned 31 in 1969 and did not win any further grand slam singles titles in his career after that astonishing season, but that second perfect season sealed his legacy as an all-time great.

Stefan Edberg won a boys' singles clean sweep in 1983, but Laver remains the only player to win the men's singles full set in a calendar year since American Don Budge captured all four in the 1938 season, the first time it was achieved by a man. Maureen Connolly and Margaret Court achieved calendar Grand Slams in women's singles in 1953 and 1970 respectively.

A non-calendar Grand Slam was accomplished by Djokovic, when he won Wimbledon, the US Open, Australian Open and French Open consecutively across the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Yet no man other than Laver, Budge and Djokovic has won all four singles crowns in succession.

It has been 11 years since Nadal himself went close. He went to the Australian Open in 2011 with the Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open trophies in the bag, looking to complete the set.

"I am sure it's going to be the only one opportunity that I'm going to have in my life," said Nadal that year. "I'm not going to have more of these opportunities to win all four in a row.

"I think it is almost impossible. It is very, very difficult, no? Tennis is a very competitive sport and there is not a lot of difference between players. So a lot of matches are decided in a few balls. So for that reason it is very difficult to have one player winning everything. That's the truth."

Nadal, hampered by injury, lost in the Melbourne quarter-finals to David Ferrer in 2011 and had not won back-to-back slams since, until this year's surprise double. 


REACHING PRESSURE POINT

It is too soon to think that Nadal has a glorious chance to land all four big ones this year. After all, although he has won Wimbledon twice before, those triumphs came in 2008 and 2010, and he has a chronic foot problem. He has required radiofrequency ablation treatment in the past fortnight, preventing nerves in his foot sending messages to his brain.

He fell to Djokovic in the 2011 Wimbledon final and has not been back to the title match since, suffering a run of disappointing early exits in London before reaching semi-finals in 2018 and 2019, his last visits to the tournament.

Djokovic is a heavy favourite for this year's title, but it would be bold to entirely rule out Nadal, particularly given that as the second seed he cannot run into Djokovic until the final. Particularly given that he is Rafael Nadal, and prone to doing stupendous things.

Serbian Djokovic, a year Nadal's junior, would be able to tell his great rival just how intense the strain can become when a calendar Grand Slam becomes a serious prospect.

Speaking in November last year, two months after Medvedev denied him in New York, Djokovic said: "I'm very relieved that the grand slam season was done, because I felt a tremendous pressure unlike anything I felt in my life.

"It was an interesting experience, and I'm very satisfied with the way I played in grand slams, three wins and a final. There are much more positive things to be grateful for and to look at than negative."

Like Djokovic, Serena Williams has managed the non-calendar Grand Slam before, with the American first achieving that from the French Open in 2002 to the Australian Open in 2003, and in 2015 she was aiming for five slams in a row when she arrived at the US Open, having begun her dominant streak at her home grand slam the previous year.

That would have meant Williams sealed each of the 2015 slams, and losing to Vinci led to stark frustration, underlined by a terse response to the question of how disappointed she felt by the result.

"I don't want to talk about how disappointing it is for me," Williams said. "If you have any other questions, I'm open for that."

Sometimes, players get ahead of themselves when looking at the season ahead, and Naomi Osaka had a calendar Grand Slam in her thoughts after winning the season-opening Australian Open in 2019.

She had also triumphed at the US Open at the end of 2018, and the Japanese star was beginning to think she might enjoy an invincible year at the majors, only to stumble to a third-round French Open defeat to Katerina Siniakova.

Osaka said: "I think I was overthinking this calendar slam. For me this is something that I have wanted to do forever, but I have to think about it like if it was that easy, everyone would have done it."

Serena Williams will begin her Wimbledon challenge against French player Harmony Tan, who will be making her main-draw debut.

For 40-year-old American Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, there will be relief at avoiding a seed in the first round.

That was a possibility given that Williams is in the draw on a wildcard, having not played singles since suffering an ankle injury in her Wimbledon opener 12 months ago.

Instead, the 23-time grand slam winner will face the world number 113, who lost in the first round of the recent French Open, perhaps as soft a landing as Williams could have had.

Wimbledon begins on Monday at the All England Club, with women's defending champion Ash Barty not involved after announcing a shock retirement in March.

Williams has returned to action this week at the Eastbourne International, winning through two rounds in doubles alongside Ons Jabeur, before the duo pulled out due to a knee worry for Jabeur.

Awaiting the winner of Williams versus Tan will be American Christina McHale or Spanish 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, while last year's runner-up Karolina Pliskova is a potential third-round obstacle.

Women's top seed Iga Swiatek starts against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett, while Britain's US Open champion Emma Raducanu was drawn to face the experienced Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, a player who knocked out the then-defending champion Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon four years ago.

Tunisian third seed Jabeur was paired with Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund, Pliskova faces fellow Czech Tereza Martincova, and American Coco Gauff, fresh from a first grand slam final in Paris, drew Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, who may struggle to live up to her billing as the second seed having never previously gone past round three, plays American Bernarda Pera first up.

Among former champions, Angelique Kerber tackles Kristina Mladenovic in her opener, while Simona Halep was handed a tough assignment against Karolina Muchova.

Of all the players in the draw this year, Muchova is the woman with the highest winning percentage in Wimbledon main draw matches.

The Czech has an 80 per cent success record, winning eight matches and losing twice after reaching the quarter-finals in her both previous appearances, losing to Elina Svitolina in 2019 and Kerber last season.

Serena Williams and Ons Jabeur have pulled out of their Eastbourne International doubles semi-final due to an injury concern just days before Wimbledon begins.

Organisers said Tunisian world number three singles star Jabeur was troubled by a right knee injury, forcing her brief alliance with Williams to come to an end.

They had won through two rounds in increasingly impressive style, with Williams making her return to the WTA Tour, having not played competitive tennis since injuring an ankle at Wimbledon last year.

The 40-year-old Williams was clearly enjoying the partnership with Jabeur, who in May became the first African or Arab woman to win a WTA 1000 singles title when she triumphed at the Madrid Open.

They had named themselves 'Onsrena' and were due to face Aleksandra Krunic and Magda Linette in the semi-finals, before news emerged on Thursday of their withdrawal.

No details of the seriousness of Jabeur's injury were disclosed, and it may prove a precautionary withdrawal given Wimbledon is so close, with the latter starting on Monday.

Jabeur won a title on grass in Berlin last week, showing she could pose a threat to top seed Iga Swiatek, providing she is not hampered by injury.

Williams, a 23-time grand slam singles champion, will also be competing at Wimbledon after being handed a wildcard entry into the tournament where she has won seven singles titles.

Serena Williams lauded her doubles partner Ons Jabeur after they advanced to the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International on Wednesday. 

Playing in her first tournament since retiring from the opening round of Wimbledon injured last year, Williams acknowledged she was particularly reliant on Jabeur during their 6-2 6-4 success over Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-ching. 

The 23-time grand slam singles champion opted to only play doubles on the south coast as she gears up for a return to the All England Club. 

"I think we played together much better," said Williams. "Although I thought we played really good together [against Maria Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo on Tuesday] too. 

"But Ons really held me up. She was really playing so good. I was looking at her and was like, 'Wow, this is great.' It's good." 

Williams and Jabeur will take on Aleksandra Krunic and Magda Linette for a place in the final. 

Jabeur playfully asked the 40-year-old if she would like to play together at the US Open, to which the former world number one responded: "Sign me up!" 

The Tunisian added: "I'm getting used to this. It was really great to play here and I didn't know we are in the semi-finals. It's super fast, but it's great for us." 

Serena Williams doubted whether she would return to elite tennis as she stepped up her Wimbledon preparations by playing doubles with Ons Jabeur at the Eastbourne International.

Williams teamed up with Jabeur on Tuesday to record a thrilling win over Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo in her first competitive outing since last June, when she was forced to retire from her first-round Wimbledon clash with Aliaksandra Sasnovich through injury.

Having been granted a wildcard entry to the year's third grand slam, which begins next week, Williams is bidding for her first major title since winning 2017's Australian Open.

But speaking after her successful return to the court, Williams admitted her comeback had been far from certain.

"Did I ever doubt I would return? Absolutely, for sure. I would be dishonest if I said it wasn't and now my body feels great," she said.

"I definitely felt good out there and I was talking with Ons in the first set saying 'we're not playing bad' because they were just playing really good in that first set.

"But obviously winning, getting more balls and playing a little bit more made us feel a lot better. It definitely felt reassuring. It has been clicking in practice and now it seems like it is clicking. It is doubles but it still means a lot to both of us to be in it."

Williams and Jabeur will face Shuko Aoyama and Chan Hao-Ching in Eastbourne's doubles quarter-finals after posting an impressive 2-6 6-3 13-11 victory in their first outing.

With Williams now ranked 1,204th in the world and aged 40, speculation has abounded as to whether her SW19 appearance will mark the beginning of a farewell tour for the seven-time Wimbledon champion.

However, Williams is not rushing to make any further decisions about her future in the game.

"You know what, I am literally taking it one day at a time. I really took my time with my hamstring injury so I am not making a ton of decisions after this," she added.

"I did a lot of non-training in the beginning obviously and after I couldn't play New York [2021's US Open] I went cold turkey of not working out.

"It felt good, but I always try to stay semi-fit because you never know when you are going to play Wimbledon.

"I love tennis and I love playing otherwise I wouldn't be here, but I also love what I do off the court."

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