SPORTS

Serena Williams Loses At French Open; Federer Withdraws

Jun 6, 2021, 4:15 PM | Updated: Jul 5, 2023, 5:09 pm

Serena Williams of USA plays a backhand during her Women's Singles fourth round match against Elena...

Serena Williams of USA plays a backhand during her Women's Singles fourth round match against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan on day eight of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 06, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

PARIS (AP) — Serena Williams turns 40 in September. Roger Federer hits that milestone the month before. No one knows how many more French Open appearances each will make, and this year’s tournament ended for both on Sunday.

Williams fell way behind and could not put together a comeback against a much younger and less-experienced opponent in the fourth round at Roland Garros, losing 6-3, 7-5 to Elena Rybakina — who wasn’t even born when the American made her tournament debut in 1998.

Asked whether that might have been her last match at the clay-court major, Williams responded: “Yeah, I’m definitely not thinking about it at all. I’m definitely thinking just about other things, but not about that.”

Her defeat came hours after Federer withdrew, saying he needed to let his body recover ahead of Wimbledon after a long third-round victory that ended at nearly 1 a.m. on Sunday.

Wimbledon — which Federer has won eight times and Williams seven — begins June 28.

“I’m kind of excited to switch surfaces,” Williams said. “Historically I have done pretty well on grass.”

She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles; Federer has won 20. They are two of the sport’s greatest and most popular players, so it was quite a blow to the tournament, its TV partners and tennis fans to see both gone from the French Open field one after the other — and a week after Naomi Osaka pulled out, citing a need for a mental health break.

Williams has won the French Open three times. But the American hasn’t been past the fourth round in Paris since she was the runner-up in 2016.

Rybakina is a 21-year-old from Kazakhstan who is ranked 22nd. This was just the seventh Grand Slam appearance for Rybakina — and the first time she ever made it so much as past the second round.

“When I was small, of course, I was watching her matches on TV. So many Grand Slams,” Rybakina said.

Against Williams, whose right thigh carried a heavy tape job, Rybakina hit big, flat serves. She dealt with, but managed to steady, her nerves. She even produced the occasional return winner off Williams’ speedy and spectacularly gifted serve, breaking her five times, including in the next-to-last game.

“I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return. She’s powerful, but I was ready,” Rybakina said. “Then, after few points, I felt … comfortable.”

Rybakina said she followed her coach’s strategy of sending shots to Williams’ backhand side and trying to stay away from her forehand.

Every time Williams appeared as if she might turn things around, she could not quite get the momentum fully in her favor.

Down a quick break in the second set, she got to 2-all. Williams then was down 4-3 in the second set but pulled even again when Rybakina sailed a forehand well wide to get broken.

In the next game, Williams gave away the opening point when, near the baseline, she failed to get out of the way of a shot from Rybakina that was flying long. Williams smiled ruefully and leaned over, resting and propping herself up with her racket.

Repeatedly one sort of mistake or another undid Williams. She ended up with 19 unforced errors and only 15 winners.

“I’m so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match,” Williams said. “I’m not winning those points. That, like, literally could just change everything.”

Since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant for her most recent major singles title — No. 23 set a record for the professional era — Williams has come close to tying Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24. That includes four runner-up finishes at Grand Slam tournaments, most recently against Bianca Andreescu at the 2019 U.S. Open.

But since then, Williams has been beaten twice in semifinals, and once each in the third and fourth rounds. Last year at the French Open, she withdrew before the second round, citing an injured left Achilles.

Federer, meanwhile, never had pulled out of a Grand Slam tournament once he had started competing in it until now.

Rybakina next will meet Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a semifinal berth on the line; they’re playing doubles together and are scheduled to play a third-round match in that event Monday. Pavlyuchenkova advanced with a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 victory over two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.

The other quarterfinal on that side of the women’s draw is going to be Paula Badosa against Tamara Zidansek. Neither has been this far at a major tournament, either.

One of those four players will become a first-time Grand Slam finalist next weekend.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is still looking for his first major final, too, and he reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros for the second year in a row by eliminating 12th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2, 7-5.

Tsitsipas next faces No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who has won six of their previous seven meetings.

Medvedev is a two-time Grand Slam finalist — at the 2019 U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open — but was 0-4 for his career in Paris until now. He advanced Sunday by eliminating No. 22 Cristian Garin 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.

The other quarterfinal on that side of the field will be No. 6 Alexander Zverev of Germany against unseeded 22-year-old Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain. Davidovich Fokina beat Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, before Zverev made quick work of Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 at night in a matchup between two past U.S. Open runners-up.

___

AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington and AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Miami contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Sports

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Former Jazz Center Kelly Olynyk Inks New Contract With Raptors

Former Utah Jazz center Kelly Olynyk has signed a new two-year contract extension with the Toronto Raptors.

1 hour ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Andrés Gómez Earns Team Of Week Honors Behind Stellar Snow Performance

At the start of last season, Andrés Gómez was signed to Real Salt Lake on a $4 million deal that broke the record for an incoming transfer.

2 hours ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Keyonte George Questionable As Jazz Host Wizards

Keyonte George is the latest name added to the Utah Jazz injury report as they prepare to host the Washington Wizards.

2 hours ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Denver Broncos Announce Plans To Release QB Russell Wilson

The Denver Broncos announced that they plan to release veteran quarterback Russell Wilson following two seasons with the NFL franchise.

2 hours ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

Philadelphia Eagles Center Jason Kelce Retires From NFL After 13 Seasons

Philadelphia Eagles star center Jason Kelce announced his retirement from the NFL after playing 13 seasons in the league.

3 hours ago

Follow @kslsports...

KSL Sports

BYU Football Roster For 2024 Spring Camp

BYU's roster during spring football practices.

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Serena Williams Loses At French Open; Federer Withdraws