Serena Williams suffered her first loss to a player ranked outside the top-100 since 2012, as she went down 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) to Shelby Rogers in the quarterfinals of the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky on Friday.
Ranked 116 in the world, American wildcard Rogers outlasted the top seeded Williams in a tough contest that lasted for two hours and seven minutes.
“It’s every kid’s dream when they are growing up watching her play and to be able to do something like that,” said Rogers after the match.
The Lexington tourney is the first competitive events in the US since Coronavirus forced suspension of the tennis tours in March. The tournament has put in place a number of health and safety protocols and is being played without spectators.
“Weird circumstances. Weird setting. But a win is a win. I know we’re all just happy to be playing,” Rogers added.
The 38-year-old Williams, who hadn’t played since February before this week, was hoping to get as many matches as possible under her belt before the US Open. The American hard-court Slam, which begins on August 31, will give her another chance to chase down Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 singles majors.
Williams is only one short, but hasn’t won a Grand Slam title since the 2017 Australian Open. Since returning to the sport in the spring of 2018 after giving birth to baby daughter Olympia, the American has surprisingly stumbled at the final hurdle.
She has made four major finals in the last two seasons, but has failed to win a single set.
At the Top seed Open, Williams was stretched to three sets in all the three matches. Though she edged past Bernarda Pera and older sister Venus in the earlier rounds, wildcard Rogers proved a tough nut to crack.
The last time she lost to a player ranked outside the top-100 was the 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6 defeat to then World No 111 Virginie Razzano in the first round of French Open.
“I made it difficult on myself by making a plethora of unforced errors,” Williams said after Friday’s defeat. “I could play a lot better, I think that’s the main thing I can take from this match.”