Venus Williams' hopes of securing a title on her return from injury were ended today as she was beaten by Daniela Hantuchova in the quarter-finals of the AEGON International at Eastbourne.
Williams, who has this week returned to the game after a spell on the sidelines with knee and hip problems, had impressed in reaching the last eight but her Slovakian opponent proved too strong as she secured a 6-2 5-7 6-2 success.
The American, seeded 23 for Wimbledon, struggled badly during the opening set and conceded two breaks of serve to lose it 6-2.
She appeared to be on the verge of a straight-sets defeat after being broken again early in the second set but she rallied valiantly from 4-2 down to force a decider.
But her serve let her down as she won just 38% of first serve points in the final set to allow Hantuchova to prevail in a match lasting almost two and a half hours.
Williams' sister Serena, herself returning from injury, went out to Vera Zvonareva in the second round yesterday.