Venus Williams' U.S. Open women's singles run is already over after she lost to Alison Van Uytvanck on Tuesday in straight sets, 1-6, 6-7(5)
This is the second successive first-round exit for the two-time champion, who fell to Karolina Muchova in her opening match in 2020.
Williams dug herself into an early hole thanks to a sloppy first set. She dropped her first two service games, which allowed Van Uytvanck to build a commanding 5-1 lead. Serving to stay in the set, she suffered her third break as the Belgian right-hander claimed the set.
Williams righted the ship in the second frame. She immediately took control by breaking back in the opening game but was unable to fully capitalize. Van Uytvanck eventually leveled things up at three games apiece.
The tiebreaker played out in much the same fashion as Williams gained an early 3-1 edge before Van Uytvanck turned the tables and won the next four points. The American was unable to stem the tide the rest of the way.
Van Uytvanck had a decided edge in winners (29) over Williams (18) and found a recipe for success at the net. She won 12 of her 14 net points
Whereas Serena Williams has laid out her general retirement plan, it's unclear when Venus intends to step away from the game. Given her age, 42, her farewell could come rather suddenly, thus adding a level of significance to any time she steps onto the court at a Grand Slam.
If this is the end, then it would be the kind of exit not befitting of her legendary status.
Venus at least has the chance to end her time in Flushing Meadows this year on a better note. She and Serena open their women's doubles account Thursday against the tandem of Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova.