Serena Williams sent tumbling out of Wimbledon
Defending champion’s 34-game winning streak brought to an end by Sabine Lisicki
Serena Williams who lost in three sets to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon. Photograph: John Walton/PA Wire
Sabine Lisicki did the unthinkable this afternoon as world number one and defending champion Serena Williams was sent tumbling out of Wimbledon.
It was always slated to be the American’s toughest challenge yet, but few could have predicted the enthralling duel that would follow on Centre Court. German Lisicki, priced by several bookmakers at 10/1 to win the last-16 clash, started with aplomb and became the first woman of the fortnight to take a set off Williams. The five-time Wimbledon champion looked a shadow of her normal self but recovered to dominate the second set. Lisicki’s exuberance and exquisite play was not to be overcome, though. In a thrilling decider, the world number 24 broke the reigning champion’s serve three times to edge through a 6-2 1-6 6-4 victor and end Williams’ incredible 34-match winning streak.
Lisicki was overcome by emotion as she absorbed her achievement. “I’m still shaking, I am so happy,” she said, before beginning to cry. “Serena played fantastically all match. She is such a tough opponent. It’s just an amazing feeling to win this match.
“The crowd were amazing, thanks to them for their support. They were amazing. I love this court so much, it’s such a special place for me.”
The German has always impressed on grass and gives little thought for her opponent’s reputation, epitomised by the fact that Williams is the fourth reigning French Open champion in five years to be felled by Lisicki at the All England Club.
The American was in no doubt from the outset about how hard the match would be. The first set was an incredible battle of wills, with Williams the first to buckle. Having opened the sixth game with two aces, the American put a routine forehand wide before missing a sitter of a backhand, allowing Lisicki to break en route to taking the set.
Williams had looked a shadow of her normal self but went into the second set with renewed vigour, tearing through it in a mere 27 minutes.
The third set was more of a topsy-turvy affair, with both breaking serve on more than one occasion to the delight of the Centre Court crowd. Lisicki looked more composed, though, and edged the match in two hours and four minutes, setting up a quarter-final clash with Kaia Kanepi.
“I am not thinking about that yet,” Lisicki told the BBC. “I did enjoy it. She played unbelievable shots, but I fought for every point, hung in there, it’s unbelievable.” Asked if she would be celebrating the win, Lisicki added: “No, not yet. The tournament is not over.”
Sloane Stephens is now the only American left in the Wimbledon singles draw, the 20-year-old overcame Monica Puig 4-6 7-5 6-1 today.
Elsewhere another former champion Petra Kvitova battled her way through to the quarter-finals with victory over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
Kvitova, the winner in 2011, is the highest seed left in the bottom half of the draw and, with a game made for grass has emerged as a clear favourite to make the final. But she has not had a good season and has been unconvincing so far this fortnight. She may well have lost in the third round had bad light not intervened during her match against Ekaterina Makarova.
The eighth-seeded Czech looked better today in a 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 win on Court Three against 19th seed Suarez Navarro.
Li Na narrowly missed out on handing Italian Roberta Vinci the dreaded double bagel as the Chinese sixth seed romped into the quarter-finals with a 6-2 6-0 victory.
The 2011 French Open champion served for the first set at 5-0 up but was broken by the doubles specialist, who raised loud cheers on Court Three as she finally registered a game against her name on the scoreboard. The 30-year-old Vinci, seeded 11th, held her next service game but from then on Li was an unstoppable force as she won the next seven games to reach the last eight at Wimbledon for the third time.
The Chinese favourite will now face 2012 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska Polish. The fourth seed won 4-6 6-3 6-3 against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.
Laura Robson’s dream run through Wimbledon came to an end as the British number one was overpowered by Estonian big-hitter Kanepi.
Robson went a break ahead early on, but Kanepi’s power from the back of the court proved too much for the 19-year-old and she took the first set on a tie-break. Robson lost her temper on a couple of occasions and it showed in her play as she succumbed to a 7-6 (8/6) 7-5 defeat, ending her hopes of becoming the first British woman to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 29 years.