Shamil Tarpischev says the 23-time Grand Slam singles winner will never be able to recapture past form
Tennis great Serena Williams will never reach her former levels and her first-round exit at Wimbledon to world number 115 Harmony Tan proves this, according to Russian tennis boss Shamil Tarpischev.
Williams, 40, made a comeback in London on Tuesday in what was the American star's first significant action since she was forced to retire with a hamstring injury in the opening round of the same tournament last year.
While Williams battled hard in a three-set contest with France's Tan which enthralled the Centre Court crowd, the American star was ultimately left disappointed as she contemplated what could be her last appearance on the grass courts at SW19.
Assessing Williams' chances of ever reaching the kind of levels which would put her in contention for an elusive, record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title, veteran Russian Tennis Federation president Tarpischev ruled out that prospect.
"Serena's time has already passed. She also gained weight," Tarpischev said in comments to Russian outlet RBC.
"Of course, her desire to win and become the first in the number of Grand Slams is understandable. But her time has passed. And every day it is more and more difficult for her to win something.
"Before that [Wimbledon], she didn't play, and even her psychological stability to games disappeared. She will not return to a high level, age and many factors affect this. It was not worth returning, the defeat from Tan confirms this," added Tarpishchev.
Tarpishev has guided Russia to success in men's and women's tennis. Oscar Gonzalez / NurPhoto via Getty Images
Williams said after her loss to Tan that she had given all she could in the match, adding: "At some point you have to be able to be OK with that. And that's all I can do."
The American star indicated, however, that she was motivated to appear at her home US Open later this year - a venue where she has won six of her 23 Grand Slam singles crowns.