Venus Williams waves to the crowd at Wimbledon as she leaves the court after her 1st round loss Monday (image credit Clive Rose/Getty)
Wimbledon, England (AP via USA Today) -- Five-time champion Venus Williams was eliminated 6-1, 6-3 by Elena Vesnina of Russia at Wimbledon on Monday, the first time the American has lost in the opening round at the All England Club since her debut 15 years ago.
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, has fallen to 58th in the world rankings since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. She lost the first five games on Court 2 to the 79th-ranked Russian and, although she picked up her game and fought hard, was never able to turn the match around.
"I have to give credit to her," Williams said. "She made hardly any errors and served well."
To a question about her energy, Williams said: "I did my best. My opponent played well."
It was the fourth time Williams has lost in the opening round of a Grand Slam and the first at Wimbledon since her debut appearance in 1997.
"I've lost before," Williams said, "so I know how to deal with it."
Williams suffers from the energy-sapping autoimmune disorder Sjogren's syndrome, and can not train properly and consistently.
Williams said in her press conference saying she always enters tournaments with a positive attitude and doesn't want to talk about her health.
Williams is still expected to play doubles here with sister Serena, and she is expected to be back in about a month to compete here in the London Olympics.
To repeated questions, direct and indirect, about what is ahead, retirement perhaps, Williams responded: "I absolutely love this sport, and I feel like I can play well. I'm not going to give up on it."