Tagged in: centre court

Simona Halep cruises past Paula Badosa to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals

Simona Halep is living up to her status as the only former Grand Slam champion left in this year’s women’s draw.

The Romanian defeated fourth-seeded Paula Badosa 6-1, 6-2 on Centre Court to return to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and extend her winning streak at the All England Club to 11 matches.

The 16th-seeded Halep won the title in 2019 but missed last year’s edition with an injury, while the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the pandemic. This was, however, Halep’s first victory over a top-five ranked player on grass.

The former No. 1, who also won the French Open in 2018, has yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament and consistently got the better of Badosa in the baseline rallies. She concluded with only nine unforced errors and saved the only break point she faced.

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Badosa’s loss means No. 3 Ons Jabeur is the only top-10 seed left in the women’s tournament.

Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time after beating Petra Martic 7-5, 6-3.

The 17th-seeded Rybakina broke in the final game of the first set and then again for a 4-2 lead in the second. She concluded with 26 winners to 13 for her opponent.

Rybakina reached the French Open quarterfinals last year, when she made the fourth round at Wimbledon in her first appearance at the All England Club.

Martic was playing Wimbledon for the 10th time but has never been past the fourth round. Rybakina will next play Ajla Tomljanovic, who defeated Alize Cornet 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Monday.

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Serena Williams loses first-round match at Wimbledon to Harmony Tan

Serena Williams, playing her first competitive singles match in 364 days, was handed another devastating early exit at Wimbledon with a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) loss to Harmony Tan on Tuesday that took more than three hours and a 10-point third-set tiebreak to decide.

“Today I gave all I could do, you know, today,” a dejected Williams told a packed room of reporters after the match. “Maybe tomorrow I could have gave more. Maybe a week ago I could have gave more. But today was what I could do.

“At some point, you have to be able to be OK with that. And that’s all I can do. I can’t change time or anything, so, that’s all I could do on this particular day.”

Playing Tan — who is ranked No. 115 and was making her main draw debut at the tournament — in front of an adoring crowd on Centre Court, Williams simultaneously showed signs of rust alongside glimpses of her signature brilliance.

When it was over, both players were given a standing ovation from those in the stands. The 40-year-old Williams, the owner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles, waved several times as she walked off the court and twirled before disappearing in the exit.

There has been much speculation as to Williams’ retirement, and she didn’t do much to dispel such speculation after Tuesday’s match, giving vague answers to multiple questions about her future.

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“That’s a question I can’t answer,” Williams said after the loss. “Like, I don’t know. I feel like, you know, I don’t know. Who knows? Who knows where I’ll pop up.”

Williams hadn’t played competitively at singles since being forced to retire from her first-round match at the All England Club in 2021 due to what she later revealed to be a torn hamstring. While she had initially hoped to return in time for the US Open last year, the recovery was far lengthier than she had anticipated, and she took a break to give herself time to heal.

But she couldn’t escape the lingering disappointment of her 2021 Wimbledon exit.

“It was a lot of motivation, to be honest,” Williams said before this tournament got underway. “It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind. So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that.”

She decided in the spring to make a return to the All England Club, after a whirlwind year full of recovery and off-the-court interests and pursuits. She started her competitive comeback last week in doubles at Eastbourne, alongside Ons Jabeur, to great fanfare.

The two reached the semifinals before they were forced to withdraw due to a knee injury for Jabeur, but Williams still considered she had gotten some valuable match experience.

Still, Williams needed the first several games of Tuesday’s match versus Tan to rediscover her form, and her early play was riddled with errors.

“I had some chances to win that first set,” Williams said. “You know, [it] didn’t work out, so … yeah, it was just, yeah, different, totally different for me.”

But as she has done countless times throughout her career, Williams fought back with a dominant performance in the second set, including winning a marathon 30-point second game.

She looked to be in control in the third, holding a 3-1 lead, but Tan came back to win the next three games. From there, it was a battle in which the crowd seemed to live and breathe with every point, and both players reacted emphatically throughout.

It reached a fever pitch when Williams saved match point at 5-6 to ultimately force a deciding tiebreak.

In the first-to-10 tiebreak, Williams jumped out to a 4-0 lead. However, in the final moments, it slipped out of her control, and Tan dominated.

If this is the end for Williams, it will mark the conclusion of one of the greatest careers in the sport. With 23 major titles, including seven at the All England Club, Williams has the most ever by any player in the Open Era.

She has been seeking to tie Margaret Court’s long-standing record of 24, the most in history, since returning from childbirth in 2018. Since then, Williams has played in four finals in those 14 majors, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019, but has fallen short each time.

Williams didn’t completely rule out an appearance at the US Open later this summer, however.

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Serena Williams out of Wimbledon after slipping on Centre Court, injuring leg

Serena Williams retired from her first-round match at Wimbledon on Tuesday versus Aliaksandra Sasnovich due to a right leg injury.

Holding a 3-1 lead in the first set, Williams slipped and needed to take an injury timeout at the game’s conclusion to receive treatment. She returned to the court, but her movement was visibly limited.

Williams was serving in the fifth game at Centre Court when she lost her footing near the baseline while hitting a forehand. She winced and stepped gingerly between points, clearly troubled.

After dropping that game, she took a medical timeout and tried to keep playing. A crying Williams bit her upper lip and covered her face between points as the crowd tried to offer support and encouragement. But eventually, the 39-year-old American dropped to her knees, and the chair umpire came over to check on her.

The match ended at 3-all in the first set.

Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, gave an emotional wave to the crowd and held her hand over her heart as she fought back tears before she exited the court.

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Williams did not speak to the media afterward, though she offered some reaction on Instagram thanking the fans.

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw today after injuring my right leg,” she wrote. “My love and gratitude are with the fans and the team who make being on centre court so meaningful. Feeling the extraordinary warmth and support of the crowd today when I walked on — and off — the court meant the world to me.”

This marks just the second time in Williams’ storied career she has retired from a match at a major. The other incidence was in the third round at the All England Club in 1998.

“Of course I’m so sad for Serena; she’s a great champion,” Sasnovich said. “It happens sometimes in tennis, but all the best for her and her recovery.”

Williams entered the tournament in search of her 24th major title, which would have tied her with Margaret Court for the most ever. She last won a Grand Slam at the Australian Open in 2017 and has made four finals since returning after giving birth, including at Wimbledon in 2018 and 2019. She made the semifinals at the Australian Open earlier this year as well as the fourth round at the French Open last month.

Her departure makes a wide-open women’s draw even more so. As it was, defending champion Simona Halep and four-time major champ Naomi Osaka withdrew before the tournament started.

Williams was the second player on Centre Court on Tuesday to slip and suffer an injury. Adrian Mannarino, who was playing versus Roger Federer, also was forced to retire as a result of a similar fall. Due to rain, the roof had been closed.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof,” Federer said after his match. “I don’t know if it’s just a gut feeling. You do have to move very, very carefully out there. If you push too hard in the wrong moments, you do go down. “This is obviously terrible that it’s back-to-back matches and it hits Serena as well. Oh, my God, I can’t believe it.”

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