NBC Olympics.com – Former World No. 1 Venus Williams fought a tough first round battle against Belgium's Kristen Flipkens. After three tight sets, the American fell hard, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.
Williams – a seven-time Grand Slam champion who was seeded fifth – was neck-and-neck with the unseeded Flipkens in the first set, but managed to overcome her opponent. She then surrendered the second set in a fairly decisive fashion. In the third set, Williams seemed to take control with a 4-1 lead, but experienced difficulty closing out the match. Flipkens soon tied up the score.
Finally, the two players swung it out in a tense third set tiebreak. The Belgian quickly established a lead and emerged the victor, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6.
She fell to the ground in disbelief. The Belgian had missed out on the London 2012 Games due to blood clots in her leg.
It's a huge loss for Williams, who showed promising signs earlier this year by making it to the fourth round of the French Open and the semifinals of Wimbledon. At 36, the Rio Olympics are likely her last Games.
Still, Venus isn't totally finished with the tournament - not yet. Tomorrow, she'll compete alongside her sister, current World No. 1 singles player Serena Williams, in doubles. The siblings are seeded first in the division, having won the category at this year's Wimbledon Championships.