'Won't happen': Brutal Margaret Court twist in Serena Williams' exit

Serena Williams, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Serena Williams remains one major away from Margaret Court's all-time record. Image: Getty

Serena Williams will take her quest to equal Margaret Court's all-time grand slam singles record to Wimbledon after crashing out of the French Open in the fourth round on Sunday.

With a number of big names falling by the wayside at Roland Garros, Williams was suddenly one of the title favourites and the only player from the world's top-20 left in the bottom half of the draw.

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However her Roland Garros campaign was ended in brutal fashion on Sunday with a straight-sets loss to Elena Rybakina 3-6 5-7.

The 39-year-old will now head to Wimbledon knowing it might be her biggest and final chance to match Court with 24 grand slam titles.

The French Open has been the least rewarding of the four majors for Williams, who won the last of her 23 grand slam singles titles at the Australian Open in 2017.

She hasn't gone beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros since losing the 2016 final - the year after she captured the last of her three titles in Paris.

Despite arriving in Paris with just one win on clay this season, Williams had seen her title hopes boosted by the absence of Simona Halep, and early exits of Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

But Williams has now gone four and a half years since winning her last major, which came at the Australian Open in 2017 while she was pregnant.

On Sunday, fans and pundits were left to speculate whether she will ever match the record set by controversial Aussie Court.

Sports writer Cedric Golden tweeted: "Unless she finds some major magic similar to what we saw from Mickelson at the PGA Championship, it won't happen.

"At 39, Serena won't win another major unless she rediscovers the weapon that made her the GOAT.

"Her first serve was the best in the history of the game but has fallen off in recent years. She's serving at 57% this season, which just isn't good enough against these young players."

Serena Williams confident heading into Wimbledon

Speaking after her loss on Sunday, Williams said she was looking forward to Wimbledon later this month.

"I'm kind of excited to switch surfaces, but historically I have done pretty well on grass," said Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion.

"I have done pretty well on clay too. Just not this particular season."

Williams became the eighth top-10 seed in the women's draw to depart, outmuscled by the Russian-born Rybakina who was appearing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Serena Williams reacts during her loss to Elena Rybakina at the French Open. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)
Serena Williams reacts during her loss to Elena Rybakina at the French Open. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

"It was definitely close. I'm so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match," said Williams.

"I'm not winning those points. That like literally could just change everything.

"I'm in a much better place than when I got here. You know, (I was) just literally trying to win a match, because it had been a really difficult season for me on the clay."

Asked whether it could be her last French Open, Williams remained coy.

"I'm definitely not thinking about it at all," she said.

"I'm definitely thinking just about other things but not about that."

Since winning the 2017 Australian Open, Williams has four runner-up finishes at slams - most recently against Bianca Andreescu at the 2019 US Open.

with AFP