If Serena Williams is looking for some momentum heading into her final U.S. Open in a few weeks, she will have to wait.
Williams — playing her first match since indicating this week she’s in the home stretch of her storied tennis career — fell 6-2, 6-4 to Belinda Bencic in the second round of the WTA’s National Bank Open in Toronto on Wednesday night.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion was undone by shaky serving as Switzerland’s Bencic broke her twice in the first set and once in the second.
The 40-year-old Williams beat Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz on Monday for her first singles victory since the 2021 French Open, 14 months ago.
Williams is still scheduled to play in Cincinnati next week and at the U.S. Open, a Grand Slam she has won six times and which could be her final tournament.
It was revealed on Tuesday that Williams was stepping away from tennis, but she didn’t want to use the word retire.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” said Williams in the September issue of Vogue, which made its digital debut this week.