Serena Williams in action against Vera Zvonareva of Russia during day five of the AEGON International at Devonshire Park on June 15, 2011 in Eastbourne, England

*Serena Williams’ comeback run at Eastbourne ended today in the second round with a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 loss to top-seeded Vera Zvonareva.

According to the AP, Zvonareva came through a tense match in 3 hours, 12 minutes for only her second win in eight matches against the 13-time Grand Slam champion.

“I know I can do better,” Williams said. “I can improve and I’m so close to being there, it’s good.”

The No. 3-ranked Russian avenged her 6-3, 6-2 loss in the 2010 Wimbledon final, which turned out to be Williams’ last match for almost a year. Williams won her fourth title at the All England Club, but stepped on broken glass at a restaurant in July and needed two foot surgeries. She later developed blood clots on her lungs.

Williams showed her trademark tenacity in the third set, coming back from 5-2 down to make it 5-5, saving three match points at 5-4. But Zvonareva immediately broke again and a tiring Williams couldn’t muster another rally.

Williams lost on grass for the first time since dropping the 2008 Wimbledon final to her sister Venus. Today, Serena was awarded a Wimbledon seeding of No. 7, which is 19 places above her ranking.

Despite the loss, Williams is pleased with her preparations for the defense of her title — and even happier that the foot injury is no longer troubling her.

“It was a good two matches for me,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with the amount of tennis I played so it’s good, just keep going.

“I haven’t played in almost a year, so I’m a little sore. But it’s good that I’m sore now because hopefully next week I won’t be as sore. (The foot) is holding up really well, and I’m just really excited about that.”

Venus Williams and Ana Ivanovic of Serbia shake hands during day five of the AEGON International at Devonshire Park on June 15, 2011 in Eastbourne, England

Venus Williams, meanwhile, is returning from a five-month layoff because of a hip injury, and she reached the quarterfinals with a convincing 6-3, 6-2 win today over Ana Ivanovic.

Venus will face Daniela Hantuchova, who stopped French Open winner Li Na 7-6 (7), 6-3. Li held five set points in the tiebreaker and led 3-1 in the second set before losing the last five games.