Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams says she has no thoughts of retiring, despite her shock Wimbledon first-round defeat by Elena Vesnina.
The 32-year-old American, who suffers from Sjogren’s Syndrome, was beaten 6-1 6-3 by the Russian world number 79. “There’s no way I’m going to sit down and give up,” said Williams.
“I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself, it doesn’t feel good. I’m going to use the time to feel positive. I love this sport.”
Williams held serve only once as she was blown away in the first set. She recovered in the second, but when Vesnina broke in the sixth game she closed out victory to hand Williams only her second first-round defeat at the All England Club.
The other time that the seven-time Grand Slam champion fell at the first hurdle was in her debut year at SW19, in 1997, also the only other occasion when she was unseeded.
Only two women have won more Wimbledon titles in the open era, but Williams has not lifted the Rosewater Dish since 2008. In the intervening period, she has been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, an illness that causes fatigue and joint pain.
The condition caused her to take a six-month break from the game after the 2011 US Open, during which time her world ranking slipped to 134. Williams has since returned to the game in a bid to play at the London Olympics and climbed back to 58, but went out of the French Open in the second round.
“I definitely came back too early - am I paying for it? I don’t really know,” Williams added. “The Olympics is what I have fought for this whole year and it will just be an honour to be there. Being able to get to that point of my career has been amazing for me.”
Vesnina, the 25-year-old who lost to Britain’s Heather Watson at Roland Garros, will play number three seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round, after the Pole completed a routine 6-3 6-3 win over Magdalena Rybarikova.
Williams’ sister Serena, a four-time Wimbledon champion, meets Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the first round on Tuesday.