Wimbledon 2017 | Venus Williams breaks down in post match press conference
Venus Williams wiped tears from her eyes during her Wimbledon news conference yesterday.
She shook her head, fiddled with her hair and sat, silently.
The wave of emotion came as Williams attempted to answer a question about the two-car crash that police say she caused on June 9 in Florida; a 78-year-old passenger in the other vehicle died 13 days later. Williams' 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory over Elise Mertens at the All England Club was the five-time Wimbledon champion's first match anywhere since the accident and the first time she has spoken about it publicly.
Well, tried to speak about it. She began by saying: "There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and ..."
"Yeah, I'm completely speechless," she briefly continued.
"It's just ..."
"Yeah, I mean, I'm just ..."
Then she sat there, silently. Eventually, the moderator seated next to Williams temporarily halted the news conference, allowing the 37-year-old American to leave the room for a bit. She huddled nearby with her older sister, Isha, before returning. When the proceedings resumed, the moderator asked that the topic of the crash be avoided, saying, "Venus is willing to take a couple more questions about other things. Tennis, perhaps."
The 10th-seeded Williams' return to action, and difficulty in addressing the off-court matters with the media just last week, the police report was released, and a day later, the estate of the man who died sued her were the most noteworthy happenings on Day 1 at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament.
There was, though, on-court news, too, of course, starting with this: Number three-ranked Stan Wawrinka, a three-time major champion and the runner-up at the French Open just three weeks ago, dealt with a bothersome left knee and bowed out 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Daniil Medvedev, a 21-year-old Russian ranked 49th who had never won so much as one Grand Slam match in his career.
"For sure, I wasn't feeling the way I wanted to feel," Wawrinka said.
"Apparently," he said with a grin, "grass is not the best surface for my knee."
Wawrinka has won each of the other majors once apiece but Wimbledon has given him fits over the years. He has yet to get past the quarterfinals and this was his sixth exit in the first round.
Another seeded man hobbled by an injury departed when Number 20 Nick Kyrgios, a talented if temperamental Australian, stopped playing because of a hip problem. He dropped the first two sets against Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France before calling it quits.
Two of the four men who have divvied up the past 14 Wimbledon trophies won easily Monday: Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal.
Murray was asked about what advice he might give Williams.
"I don't know exactly what happened. I just read kind of more, like, headlines, rather than the whole stories about it. But it's obviously horrific when anything like that happens," he said. "I'm sure it must be tough for her to focus on her tennis just now. But I don't know how you advise someone on that. ... Unless you've been through it, you don't know. You don't know what to do."
Yesterday's selected Wimbledon results:
Daniil Medvedev 6 3 6 6
Stan Wawrinka 4 6 4 1
Rafael Nadal 6 6 6
John Millman 1 3 2
Philipp Kohlschreiber 4 2 3
Marin Cilic 6 6 6
Kei Nishikori 6 6 6
Marco Cecchinato 2 2 0
Andy Murray 6 6 6
Alexander Bublik 1 4 2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6 6 6
Cameron Norrie 3 2 2
Elise Mertens 6 4
Venus Williams 7 6
Marina Erakovic 4 1
Simona Halep 6 6
Ashleigh Barty 5 6
Elina Svitolina 7 7
Johanna Konta 6 6
Hsieh Su-wei 2 2
Dominika Cibulkova 6 3 9
Andrea Petkovic 3 6 7
Johanna Larsson 3 4
Petra Kvitova 6 6