• Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles
  • She has returned to action after a year
  • Nadal recently won his 22nd Grand Slam title

Rafael Nadal Tuesday heaped praises on Serena Williams, saying "it is great that she’s trying to come back" before the latter ended up losing in the opening round at Wimbledon.

Ahead of her first round at All England Club, Serena spoke about how much of a fan she is of Nadal, who has already tasted so much success this year, winning four titles, including two Grand Slam titles. By doing so, Nadal has taken his major titles tally to 22, two more than his arch-rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

"First of all, thanks for the words from Serena. I read [them]. It's great to hear these beautiful things from probably one of the biggest female athletes in the history of the sport in general,” Nadal said. “And it’s great that she's trying to come back. The only thing that shows is passion and love for the game. After all the things that she achieved, and a long period of time being injured, it’s so difficult to try to come back," Nadal was quoted by ATP’s official website, as saying in an interview.

Nadal, who is competing in the Wimbledon for the first time since 2019, recently overcame a chronic foot injury as well as a stress fracture in the ribs earlier this year.

"Just [to] be here shows that she has a lot of love for her work and for this game. I think that's a great example," added Nadal about Serena in the same interview.

Serena has returned to action after a year after she had limped out injured during her first round against Belarusian player Aliaksandra Sasnovich at Wimbledon in 2021.

Serena Williams in action against Harmony Tan at Wimbledon
Serena Williams in action against Harmony Tan at Wimbledon AFP / Glyn KIRK

On Tuesday, the 40-year-old Serena gave her best but it was not enough as she lost 7-5 1-6 7-6 (10-7) to Harmony Tan, who was making only her second appearance at the iconic tournament. The legendary American ace, who last won a major title in 2017, is still one title away from equaling Margaret Court's record 24 Grand Slam titles.

Meanwhile, Nadal survived a scare against Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo to progress to the second round. After winning the opening two sets comfortably at Centre Court, the Spaniard was beaten in the third set. Even in the fourth set, Cerundolo broke Nadal early but the World No. 4 regained momentum to eventually seal the game 6-4 6-3 3-6 6-4.

Nadal will take on Lithuania’s Ričardas Berankis in the second round at Wimbledon on Thursday.