Venus Williams may not have won the match, but she showed that she can still compete with the best players on the tour.

The five-time Wimbledon champion and former No. 1 battled to the bitter end before ultimately bowing out to No. 17-ranked Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3, in the second round of Birmingham.

“Venus is a great player and a great champion. It was an honor to share a court with her,” Ostapenko said in her on-court interview.

“Especially, she’s a really dangerous player on grass—she was serving really well today. But I managed it and I’m happy that after losing the second set I came back and was fighting until the very last point.

“She’s a great champion and that hasn’t gone anywhere, and it’s always going to be with her.”

After grabbing an early break for a 3-2 lead, Venus watched on as Ostapenko’s game caught fire, earning her nine of the next 12 games en route to a 6-3, 5-3 lead. Ostapenko had a match point on Venus’ serve in that game, but Venus held. Ostapenko then served for the match at 6-3, 5-4, but Venus broke. Ostapenko then brought up triple break point with Venus serving at 5-5, 0-40—Venus held.

From 6-3, 5-3 down, Venus ended up winning the next six games in a row to take the second set and build a 2-0 lead in the third.

Ostapenko has major credentials on grass courts herself, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2018.

Ostapenko has major credentials on grass courts herself, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon in 2018.


But there was one more momentum shift to come as Ostapenko found her best tennis once again and won six of the next seven games to sneak out her first career win over Venus, having lost to the WTA legend twice in 2017 at Wimbledon and the WTA Finals.

She finished it off with one last forehand winner down the line.

“I mean, of course I wish I could have finished it a bit quicker. I was a little bit disappointed after the match point in the second set,” the Latvian said. “I’m happy how I came back in the third set.”

Ostapenko managed to convert six of her 14 break point chances in the match, while Venus converted four of 12.

After being out due to injury since January, Venus returned to action in ’s-Hertogenbosch last week, falling first round—in Birmingham this week, though, she took out No. 37-ranked Camila Giorgi in a nail-biting first-round encounter, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (6), for her first Top 50 win since Beijing in 2019. Against Ostapenko on Thursday, she was on the verge of her first Top 20 win since Cincinnati in 2019.

Awaiting Ostapenko in the quarters: Polish qualifier Magdalena Frech.