Legend Williams bows out of Wimbledon with straight sets defeat to Svitolina

By Paul Lagan at Wimbledon

Centre Court

Venus Williams v Elina Svitolina 4-6, 3-6

It must be tough to face a Williams sister but that’s what Elina Svitolina had to do on Centre Court on day one of the championships and she came through it unscathed.

Williams is 43 years old, her Ukraine opponent was born in  1994 – work out the difference. It’s big in elite sporting contexts.

But at 558th in the world ranking Williams is simply from another sporting planet.

The five-time Wimbledon singles champion however cannot turn back time. The last time she picked up the winner’s shield was in 2008

She went 2-0 up before calling for a trainer and losing three on the spin in the opening set. That then went to 4-2 to Svitolina.

With her left knee strapped, her movement was even more restricted and adding first serves, and a double fault almost cost her.

But some rasping forehand hands and a wonderful backhand winner secured the seventh game to keep her in the set.

But at 3-5, her movement, or lack of it became too much. She was unable to get sufficient space to attack the ball correctly, resulting in her ramming the ball, into the net. Only her serve kept her in the game for so long, two deuces became advantage with an ace and a powerful drive to the corner resulted in Svitolina hitting the ball long to make it 5-4 to the Ukraine. And while there was a chance of a break, those unforced errors crept back into her game and she needed to give away the first set 6-4.

Some of Williams’s rasping cross court pile drivers owned as much to muscle memory than muscle strength but it wasn’t enough and she lost her serve in the first game of the second set.

Williams had a chance to break back but again just didn’t have enough physicality to overwhelm Svitolina, who became a mother in October.

She then edged into a 3-1 lead with Williams facing the prospect of the ignominy of a first-day exit.

Soon it was 1-5 and Williams was serving to stay in the match and tournament.

The crowd were behind her, and she responded with what seemed a last hurrah.

Svitolina then served for the match.

But the last hurrah, lasted slightly longer than anticipated as she broke her opponent to make it 3-5.

But the game ended in slight frustration for Willian’s, who at 15, 40 faced match point.

She fell to a Hawkeye decision which she thought was a long ball out, but technology proved was in.

And that was that.

A shake of the head by Williams and a walk off Centre Court, probably for the first last time, with a little wave and she was gone.

Picture top Venus Williams Picture: Paul Lagan

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