Serena Williams got eliminated from the 2020 Australian Open after losing her third-round match against China's Wang Qiang on Friday in Melbourne.
The seven-time Australian Open champion suffered a 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 defeat against the 27th-seed.
Williams and Wang met for the first time since their last encounter in September, during the US Open quarterfinals. In that match, Williams one-sidedly defeated Wang, 6-1, 6-0, all within 44 minutes. That match was one of the easiest victories that Williams enjoyed in her long career.
Since then, Wang has improved a lot, both in terms of gameplay and aggression. Her determination showed on the scoresheet. After losing the match, Williams admitted to have committed some mistakes. The American tennis star hit 43 winners and 56 unforced errors during the match.
She said, "Personally I made a lot of errors. I didn't hit any of those shots in New York, or in general in a really long time — so that's good news. I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today. I thought, O.K., now finish this off (the third set). I honestly didn't think I was going to lose that match."
While Williams was fighting at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Park alsoo witnessed the last match of Caroline Wozniacki's career. Wozniacki lost her match 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to 78th-ranked Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.
Had they both advanced to the fourth round, Williams and Wozniacki would have faced each other. However, that didn't happen. In both cases, it were the underdog who emerged victorious.
The latest defeat brought a premature end to Williams' dream of equalling Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles, as of now. This loss also marks her earliest exit at the Australian Open since 2006, when she lost to Daniela Hantuchova in the third round.
Last year, Williams reached the finals of Wimbledon and the US Open. However, she lost in the third round of the French Open to Sofia Kenin.
At the French Open last year, Williams had arrived after a long struggle with a knee injury. This had resulted in a lack of proper preparation. However, that wasn't the case in this year's Australian Open, as Williams seemed to be in fine form. The oddsmakers even considered her a favourite to win the title.