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Venus Williams beaten by Elina Svitolina on Wimbledon return

Venus Williams suffered a nasty fall as her emotional Wimbledon return ended in Centre Court defeat to Elina Svitolina.

The 43-year-old, whose first outing at SW19 came in 1997, was absent from the singles draw last year but was handed a wild card into this year’s tournament.

However, the five-time champion’s stay did not make it past the opening afternoon as she went down 6-4 6-3 to the Ukrainian having been injured in the opening moments of the match.

It remains to be seen whether this will be her Wimbledon swansong, as it was for her sister Serena 12 months ago, but time is obviously ticking on one of the all-time great tennis careers.

Williams, who only had two warm-up events in the run up to the tournament having previously not played since January, briefly gave hope that she could roll back the years as she broke Svitolina in her first service game.

But a slip as she approached the net in the third game saw her fall to the ground and shriek loudly in agony, and it looked like that might be the end of her return.

She was able to be patched up but, although she proved she still has the power to match anyone with some searing winners, her movement was hampered and Svitolina broke again on a run of four successive games.

Venus Williams took a fall during her match against Elina Svitolina
Venus Williams took a fall during her match against Elina Svitolina (Zac Goodwin/PA)

That was enough for her to claim the first set and she strengthened her grip on the contest by immediately breaking at the start of the second to leave Williams facing an uphill task.

The veteran has overcome some obstacles in her time but this one proved too much.

Svitolina, who is making a return of her own after missing last year’s tournament following the birth of her first child, proved she is still a top-class player as she raced to a 5-1 lead and served for the match at 5-2.

Much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd, though, Williams displayed her fighting spirit as she claimed one break back.

It only delayed the inevitable, though, as the Ukrainian closed it out on Williams’ serve to book her place in the second round.

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