Wimbledon 2011: Serena and Venus Williams both beaten
Serena and Venus Williams both suffered shock fourth round exits on a dramatic afternoon at Wimbledon.
Serena saw the defence of her title come to an end with a 6-3 7-6 (8-6) defeat by Marion Bartoli of France.
Bartoli raised her arms with joy after winning 6-3 7-6 (8-6) to set up a quarter-final against Sabine Lisicki.
Venus went down 6-2 6-3 to Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat her by the same scoreline in the quarter-finals last year.
The Williams sisters had won nine out of the last 11 singles titles at Wimbledon. Serena, who recently returned from a year out with injury and illness, will now drop to about 175th in the world.
The 13-time major winner is the fourth women’s defending champion in the Open Era to fall before the last eight.
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Bartoli dream come true (UK only)
Bartoli said: “I’m extremely happy about what I did today, especially against Serena, who’s extremely tough to beat.
“It was a great performance but tomorrow is another day and I can’t think too much ahead.”
She broke Serena in the sixth game and eventually – and deservedly – won the first set on her fifth set point with a thunderous ace down the middle.
Bartoli let out a huge cry of “Allez!” and raised her fist in the direction of her father and coach Walter, who she banished from the stands during her epic third-round win against Flavia Pennetta.
Serena looked far more comfortable at the start of the second, conceding only four points in her first three service games.
In fact, neither player had a look-in on the other’s serve until game 11, when Serena drove two backhands beyond the baseline to hand Bartoli a 6-5 lead.
However, the pressure of serving out appeared to get the better of the Frenchwoman as she squandered three match points before Serena struck back with a blistering backhand return.
A tie-break beckoned and after mini-breaks were exchanged early on, Serena saved a third match point with an ace down the ‘T’ for 6-6.
But Bartoli engineered a fifth opportunity and came up with an unreturnable serve to seal victory.
Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus arrived on Centre Court after Andy Murray’s straights-set win over Richard Gasquet and within minutes of her sister’s defeat.
Her opponent had had a poor season so far, winning just four games this year before Wimbledon, but the grass seems to have rejuvenated Pironkova and she came into the match having not lost a set at the championships.
She broke Venus in the sixth game and again as Venus served to stay in the first set. The American looked rusty with a number of unforced errors, winning 61% of points on her first serve, compared to Pironkova’s 90%
Pironkova got an early break in the second set but Venus fought back to 3-2 before Pironkova once again secured a two-game cushion. Venus had a chance to break in the seventh game but was unable to convert and Pironkova went 5-2 ahead.
Venus, 31, who last won the title in 2008, held her serve to make Pironkova serve out the match, which she did to 15 and she now faces Czech Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals.
A delighted Pironkova said: “I beat her two times, two consecutive times and it feels amazing, I’m extremely happy right now.
“When I come here I feel relaxed, I like the atmosphere.”