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Why is serena williams wearing tape black mark on her face, tennis tie break rules

Why is serena williams wearing tape black mark on her face, tennis tie break rules
Serena Williams played Harmony Tan in the first round.
Serena Williams goes out in the first round of Wimbledon again.

Williams hadn't played a singles match on tour since she had to pull out of Wimbledon last year because of an injury. She lost to Harmony Tan of France in three sets.

Serena Williams played Wimbledon for the 21st time. Harmony Tan's first time at the All England Club, but Tan will be the player moving on to the second round.

7-5, 1-6, 7-6, Tan beat Williams, who was the best women's tennis player of her time and was ranked 115th. Tan isn't even well-known in her own country (10-7). Williams hadn't played a singles match on tour since she had to leave the first round of last year's Wimbledon in tears because of a hamstring injury. On Tuesday evening, she got to play a lot of tennis on the Centre Court, where she had won seven Wimbledon singles titles. Her battle with Tan was hard and lasted 3 hours and 11 minutes. It was different from Tan's style. Williams missed the happy, reassuring end, and she didn't hesitate when asked if she was fine with this being her last Wimbledon memory if that's how it turned out.

"Of course not. You've met me. "No way," Williams, who is 40, said. "But today, I did everything I could, you know. I might have been able to give more tomorrow. Maybe I could have given more a week ago. But I could do what I could do today. You have to be able to accept that at some point. And I can't do anything else. I can't change anything, not even the time."

She did manage to change the game's direction on Tuesday, when the first set was played under the open sky and the rest of the match was played after the roof was closed to give the stadium enough light. Williams won the second set, but Tan came back and won the third. Williams' level and energy dropped, but her will to win didn't.

Even though she saved a match point on her serve late in the final set and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the new super tiebreaker at Wimbledon this year, she couldn't hold on. She missed too many important shots, including a forehand into the net on Tan's second match point.

"I think I did pretty well in terms of my body," Williams said. "I think the last couple of points were really hard for me, but I feel like winning some of those key points is always something you have to have in your mind, that you kind of need. I did pretty well on maybe one or two of them, but obviously not enough."

For a player with so little experience and who was making her first appearance on Centre Court, Tan was very calm and clear-headed during a big match. But she said it was hard for her to believe that she could really beat Williams.

"When I saw that it was Serena, I was really scared," said Tan, who is 24. "She's famous, and I thought, 'Oh my God, how can I play?'" If I win one or two games, it will be a great day for me."

She instead won two sets, which turned what could have been a happy story for Williams into a close loss that will make people wonder how much more professional tennis Williams plans to play. She will be 41 in September, and it seems less likely that she will win her 24th Grand Slam singles title and tie the record. She used to be No. 1, but now she's 1,204th and soon won't be ranked at all. But she did not say for sure if this was her last time playing at Wimbledon.

"I can't answer that question," she said. "I'm not sure. Who knows where I might turn up?"

But at least she won't leave the All England Club with a painful memory like she did last year, when she tore her hamstring after slipping in the first set of her first-round match with Aliaksandra Sasnovich and had to hobble off Centre Court in a lot of pain. She didn't play against other people again until last week, when she went back to Eastbourne, England, to play doubles with Ons Jabeur. Williams's match against Tan on Tuesday was her first singles match in a year, and she worked hard through the highs and lows.

"It was definitely a long battle and fight, and it was definitely better than last year," Williams said.

Tan, who had only seen Williams from a distance until their duel, gave her a rough time as she tried to shake off the rust and solve the many puzzles he gave her. In the end, it was an admirable performance. "It was really scary to see her next to me before we went out on court because she's so strong," Tan said in French. "It was hard, and when we shook hands at the end, she was still strong."

"I watched her on TV so many times when I was young," she said in her on-court interview. "Wow, this is my first Wimbledon!

Williams came close to winning more because of her determination than because of her strength. She didn't dominate with her first serve or full-cut returns, but instead fought her way through long rallies and difficult situations in the third set, diving low for Tan's sharply sliced shots and hustling into the corners. Williams served for the match at 5-4 and was two points away from winning at 30-15, but she lost the next three points and her serve when she hit a weak forehand approach shot that Tan slapped past her for a backhand winner.

Williams' family, friends, and team members, including her new coach Eric Hechtman, could not celebrate with her. When she was serving at 5-6, 30-40, she saved a match point with a forehand volley winner. She then had to get through the tiebreaker, even though her legs were tired and her eyes were tense. She got out to a quick 4-0 lead, but Tan won the next five points by keeping Williams off balance.

Harmony Tan, a Frenchwoman who is ranked 115th, doesn't have a lot of raw power, but she knows how tennis geometry works.
Harmony Tan, a Frenchwoman who is ranked 115th, doesn't have a lot of raw power, but she knows how tennis geometry works.

Tan is coached by Nathalie Tauziat, who was in the final of Wimbledon in 1998. Tan doesn't have a lot of pure power and her second serve is weak, but she understands tennis geometry and has a unique set of tools that work well on grass. She also knew a lot about Williams because Tauziat, who is 54 and has been retired for a long time, played Williams three times in singles and beat her in the final of a fast, low-bouncing indoor tournament in Paris in 2000. Tauziat knew it was important to keep Williams from hitting in her best spots and to keep her moving.

In her on-court interview, Tan looked at Tauziat in the player box and said, "Thank you, Nathalie."

From the beginning, Tan kept Williams guessing and stretching by mixing drop shots with forays to the net, towering lobs with counterpunched backhand passing shots, and side-swiping forehand slices with looped topspin.

"Any other opponent probably would have been better for my game," said Williams, who was rarely able to settle into power-baseline duels or any one pattern of play for long.

Only Tan knew what was going to happen. Williams has lost to players who like a lot of different styles even when she was at her best. In the beginning, she often looked confused. She also looked as tight as piano wire and had trouble letting her natural power flow. She missed a lot of swing volleys and approach shots and had to work hard to move side to side.

That made sense, given how long she had been out of work, and at first, the crowd just stood there awkwardly. At the beginning of the match, the grand tennis theater where Williams has had many highs and a few lows over the years was almost half empty, but as the match went on and turned into a marathon, it was full of support and emotion as Williams tried to avoid only the third time in her career that she lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament.

She couldn't quite do it, despite how much she wanted to, and there may not be many more major tournaments in her future. However, Williams did not rule out a return to the U.S. Open, where she won her first Grand Slam singles title at age 17.

"The first time you do something is always special," she said in a slow, soft voice. "There's a lot of motivation to get better and play at home," he said.


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