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Serena Williams is eliminated from Wimbledon in the first round after losing a three-set epic on center court

SO step the 1.204. best tennis player in her extravagant dressing gown and fishnet tights on Center Court.

And she puffed and she puffed and – even in defeat – she brought the damn house down.

Serena Williams lost a marathon first-round match at Wimbledon

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Serena Williams lost a marathon first-round match at WimbledonPhoto credit: Rex
The 40-year-old returned injured from a year's break on Tuesday evening

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The 40-year-old returned injured from a year’s break on Tuesday eveningPhoto credit: Reuters

Serena Williams — venture capitalist, Hollywood producer, activist, fashionista, mother, and occasional tennis player — hadn’t played a competitive singles match in a year.

But if Diana Ross could lead Glastonbury at 78, then Serena sure as hell could lead Wimbledon at 40.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, who was part of a consortium trying to buy Chelsea Football Club this year, said she turned on the out of office feature on her emails to focus on a game of tennis.

And after a titanic three-hour first-round clash with Wimbledon debutant Harmony Tan, Williams slipped to a 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 loss – denied her 99th singles triumph at the tournament in a final-set tiebreak.

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Her 24-year-old French opponent was born the same year Williams first played at the All England Club.

Back then, Serena was just the younger sister of Venus. She soon emerged as Sister Sledgehammer, the sport’s GOAT nanny.

Last year, a tearful Williams hobbled away from here with a hamstring injury she sustained in the opening set of her first-round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

She didn’t want this to be the last bow on her favorite patch of grass. The seven-time Wimbledon champion wanted to go out radiant on her own terms. Either that or an eighth title.

Williams wore stickers on her face to fix a sinus problem and started with heavy ring rust – a double fault, a wild volley that missed an open court and she was broken in the opening game.

However, during an epic fourth game, the ancient spirit of the warrior princess emerged – and twice Williams hit cross-court winners on return of serve. The second time she cried out in triumph.

After a long rally, Williams collapsed. She then pulled out her whack-a-mole backhand and broke again.

But instead of withering, Tan got a taste for it.

She broke back with outrageous praise and before she successfully served for the first set she even had the audacity to cheer the crowd on Center Court – the opening act trying to stage the great diva.

Then came the second game of the second set, an arm wrestling marathon with THIRTEEN twos – before Williams’ willpower won out.

Serena, more composed now, reeled off five games in a row – that racquet resembled a fly swatter – and we were soon in a final set.

The American broke early, then raised her arm like the Statue of Liberty after an impromptu winner at the net.

Harmony Tan pushed the seven-time Wimbledon winner to the end before claiming a tie-break

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Harmony Tan pushed the seven-time Wimbledon winner to the end before claiming a tie-breakCredit: PA
It was a late-night finish under the Center Court roof

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It was a late-night finish under the Center Court roofCredit: AP

But Tan refused to back down. She broke back and Williams looked shaken. murmur under breath. Probably something about respect for elders.

For a moment, it felt like those 40 years were showing — aching limbs, burning lungs, every stretch accompanied by a scream as Williams raged against the dying of the light.

But Williams broke again, then Tan hit back as she served for the match.

And Williams saved a match point in her next service game to force a tie break that saw her gamble away a 4-0 lead and fall 10-7.

But if that was her swan song, she must have belted out a hell of a tune.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/tennis/5660693/serena-williams-wimbledon-harmony-tan-result/ Serena Williams is eliminated from Wimbledon in the first round after losing a three-set epic on center court

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