Serena Williams stunned by Sabine Lisicki at Wimbledon
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WIMBLEDON, England - The winner, the stunned winner, was in tears. The loser was in a state of acceptance.
"It's not a shock," Serena Williams insisted after she, and all of tennis, indeed were shocked Monday by Sabine Lisicki's 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 victory.
"I didn't play the big points good enough," Williams said without emotion. "I didn't do what I do best."
"Serena is such a tough opponent," Lisicki sobbed to a BBC interviewer seconds after her victory. "I'm still shaking. I'm so happy. It's an amazing feeling."
Just when it didn't seem another surprise was possible, this Wimbledon of disbelief moved into the second week with perhaps the biggest surprise imaginable, the 23rd-seeded Lisicki defeating the top-ranked Williams.
It ended a career-high 34-match winning streak for Williams, who had not lost since falling to Victoria Azarenka at Doha in February. It was the end of a dream to repeat as champion and take the Wimbledon women's singles title for a sixth time.
A tournament in which No. 2 seed Azarenka, No. 3 seeds Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova and No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal already had taken their leave, lost a No. 1 seed -- and the presumed women's winner -- in the fourth round.
"I had my opportunities," Williams said. "I just didn't take them."
When someone asked the 31-year-old Williams if she had an off day, she responded, "I think it was, but I made it off by not doing what I should have done.
"I couldn't be more disappointed."
What she should have done after taking charge, winning nine straight games to close the second set and open the third, was to force the issue to the end. Instead, Lisicki became the aggressor.
There was more order on the men's side with No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic beating Tommy Haas, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4), and No. 2 Andy Murray breezing past Mikhail Youzhny, 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1.
Only one American, man or woman, remains as the tournament enters the quarterfinals. That's No. 17 seed Sloane Stephens, who on Monday defeated Monica Puig, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
"I think Sloane has a great chance of winning," Williams said of the 20-year-old from Florida who beat her at the Australian Open. "It would be nice to see her win."
At least now that Williams, with her 16 major singles titles, is unable to win another until the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows.
Lisicki has an amazing record at Wimbledon against women who a month earlier had won the French Open. She knocked out Williams this year, Sharapova in 2012, Li Na in 2011 and Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2009, within weeks of their triumphs at Roland Garros.
"She's always on against big players on big courts," Williams said. "She plays good on grass. She has a massive, massive serve, one of the biggest serves on tour. Here, always in the 120s [mph]. With the surface being faster, it's tough to break her."
Usually, it's tough to break Williams, but despite falling behind 3-1 and 4-2 in the final set, Lisicki, a German who resides in Florida, proved capable.
"I feel she was reading my serves," Williams said about placements. "I felt I was on the verge of winning. I was physically unable to hold serve. For me to win, I have to be able to serve well . . . I wasn't able to."
Williams then grew defensive.
"Come on, guys," she told the media, "she's a great grass-court player. Let's get over it. She's not a pushover."
Will Williams get over it? Will Wimbledon get over it? The only former Wimbledon women's winner left is Petra Kvitova, although last year's runner-up, Agnieszka Radwanska, still is around.
"I'll have to go back to the drawing boards and figure out a way to win this match next time," she said.
If there is a next time.