'Can't believe it': Tennis world stunned by Serena Williams shocker

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Serena Williams, pictured here in action at the French Open.
Serena Williams crashed out of the French Open in the fourth round. Image: Getty

Serena Williams has become the latest high-profile casualty in the women's draw at the French Open, stunned by Elena Rybakina in the fourth round on Sunday.

Williams' quest for a 24th grand slam singles title goes on after she was unable to capitalise on the absence of some of her biggest rivals at Roland Garros.

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World No.1 Ash Barty retired hurt in the second round, World No.2 Naomi Osaka withdrew after the first round, while World No.3 Simona Halep skipped the tournament entirely with a calf injury.

Having come into the tournament with low expectations, Williams had looked solid through her first three matches, and with big names falling by the wayside the American surged up the list of title favourites.

She went into the match against Rybakina as the only top-20 player left in the bottom half but an unexpected finalist is now guaranteed after Williams fell to a 6-3 7-5 defeat.

Still, the 39-year-old American champion believes she leaves Roland Garros in a better position than when she arrived.

"I'm in a much better place than when I got here," said Williams, who had won just one match on clay in the lead up.

"(I was) just literally trying to win a match, because it had been a really difficult season for me on the clay."

"I'm so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match. I'm not winning those points."

Tennis fans were left in disbelief over the upset.

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Serena Williams sets sights on Wimbledon

Williams can at least take a good week of match practice into Wimbledon, which is surely her best chance of finally claiming that elusive 24th major and equalling Margaret Court's all-time record.

Despite her shortage of matches, Williams is not tempted to play a grass-court event in the build-up and will instead spend time with her family - potentially at home in the US - before joining the bubble ahead of Wimbledon.

"I'm kind of excited to switch surfaces," said the World No.8, who shrugged off a question about whether this could have been her last trip to Paris.

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

Elena Rybakina, pictured here celebrating after beating Serena Williams at the French Open.
Elena Rybakina celebrates after beating Serena Williams at the French Open. (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Rybakina, 21, was not born when Williams made her debut at Roland Garros but a brilliant start to 2020 marked her out as a potential major challenger.

She has not shown the same form this season but she played a calm and controlled match on the biggest stage of her life on Sunday.

Rybakina's big serve and powerful forehand frequently proved too much for Williams, who did not play badly but lacked precision at important moments.

In the last eight, Rybakina will play her doubles partner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who followed up her victory over third seed Aryna Sabalenka by knocking out Victoria Azarenka 5-7 6-3 6-2.

The other quarter-final in the bottom half will pit Spain's Paula Badosa against Tamara Zidansek.

Zidansek, who beat Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (4) 6-1, is the first player representing Slovenia to reach the last eight at a slam.

Badosa's run is not as surprising given her excellent form on clay coming in and she defeated former finalist Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 3-6 6-2.

with AAP

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