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Venus Williams Bows Out Of Wimbledon On First Day

Venus Williams has lost in the first round of the Wimbledon Championships, a striking defeat for the five-time winner of the grass-court tournament. She lost to Elena Vesnina of Russia in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3, after failing to establish her serve.

"I have to give credit to her," Williams said. "She made hardly any errors and served well."

Before Monday, the last time Venus Williams, 32, lost in the first round was 15 years ago, in her debut at the tournament. In last month's French Open, she was bounced in the second round, one day after her sister Serena lost in the first round.

After the loss, Williams was asked about the possibility that she would consider retiring. She answered that it would take more than a few losses to make her walk away from the game.

The loss highlights Williams' recent injuries and health concerns — which include struggling with Sjogren's syndrome. The autoimmune disease, often blamed for causing dry eyes and a dry mouth, also brings on fatigue and joint pain that make it hard to compete at the elite levels of tennis. Williams returned to competition in March, after taking more than six months off to recover.

"I come into tournaments with a positive attitude," Williams told reporters after the match. "I don't really feel like talking about my health now. It is what it is. I'm just a couple of months into getting back on tour. Life is challenging, but I'm always up for a challenge."

Venus plans to return to the All England Club's courts later this week, to compete in the doubles category with Serena. And she plans to compete for the United States in the Olympics in London later this summer.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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