Serena Williams says she does not know what the future holds after her first round Wimbledon defeat, but the thought of playing in the US Open later this year still motivates her.

Williams lost 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) to little-known Frenchwoman Harmony Tan, further imperilling her chances of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time grand slam singles record.

Williams, 41 in three months, had not played a singles match since injuring her hamstring at Wimbledon last year, only returning to doubles action earlier this month.

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Sanguine, and maybe a little shell-shocked, she said wryly of her exit: “It is definitely better than last year.

“It definitely makes me want to hit the practice courts because when you’re playing not bad and you’re so close. I feel like that it’s ‘OK, Serena, you can do this if you want.’

“I think physically I did pretty good. I feel like in just those key points, winning some of those points, is something mentally that you have to have. I did pretty good on maybe one or two of ’em, but obviously not enough.”

Looking ahead to Flushing Meadows Williams added: “When you’re at home, especially in New York, and the US Open, that being the first place I’ve won a grand slam, is something that’s always super special. Your first time is always special.

“There’s definitely lots of motivation to get better and to play at home.

“I think if you’re playing week in, week out, or even every three weeks, every four weeks, there’s a little bit more match toughness.

“But today I gave all I could do. At some point you have to be able to be OK with that.”

Williams’ rustiness showed at the start when she lost the first two games, but won the next four.

Tan then broke back and held for 4-4, then broke again at 5-5 before serving out to claim the set.

World No.115 Tan had game point on Williams’ serve at the start of the second set, but the seven-times Wimbledon champion held and then won a 19 minute 41-second game to break.

She grabbed the momentum and ran away to take it 6-1.

To the delight of an adoring centre-court crowd Williams raced to a 3-1 lead in the decider. But a resilient Tan broke back and went up 4-3.

As the match clock ticked beyond three hours, inevitably the contest went into a tiebreak and Williams raced into a 4-0 lead.

But Tan simply would not go away, fighting back to lead 5-4 and winning it 10-7 with a rasping forehand.