London – Five-time champion Venus Williams suffered her worst Wimbledon defeat in 15 years on Monday, slumping to a first round exit at the hands of Russia's Elena Vesnina.
Williams lost 6-1, 6-3 to the 79th-ranked Russian in what was the 32-year-old's first opening round loss at the All England Club since her 1997 bow.
Defeat for the American star, unseeded for the first time since that debut year, will also cast further doubts over her future in the sport.
She arrived at Wimbledon desperately short of fitness and confidence with a world ranking down at 58 following a six-month absence from the tour suffering from Sjogern's Syndrome, which causes joint pain and fatigue.
Monday's defeat was just her fourth loss at the first round stage of a Grand Slam against 52 wins and it also followed a dispiriting second round exit at the French Open.
Williams, the 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008 Wimbledon champion, was beaten in the quarter-finals in 2010 and fourth round in 2011, both times falling to Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in straight sets.
Vesnina, who had lost in the first round of nine of her last 10 Grand Slam apperances, will face Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska for a place in the last 32. – Sapa-AFP