MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams' dominating run at the majors is over. American teenager Sloane Stephens is headed to the semifinals of the Australian Open.
Williams hurt her back in the eighth game of the second set, hampering her serve. She had treatment and recovered well enough to give herself a shot at winning the match, but the 19-year-old Stephens kept her composure in a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory today.
It was the first loss since Aug. 17 for the 15-time Grand Slam winner, ending a run of 20 consecutive wins.
Williams walked around the net to congratulate Stephens, who then clapped her hand on her racket and waved to the crowd, a look of disbelief on her face.
Stephens has said she had a photo of Williams up in her room when she was a child, and had long admired the Williams sisters.
"This is so crazy. Oh my goodness," Stephens said, wiping away tears in her postmatch TV interview. "I think I'll put a poster of myself [up] now."
For her part, Williams said the bad back was just another problem to contend with at a Grand Slam event that had been "absolutely" her worst for injuries.
"Everyone at this stage in the locker room has something wrong with them. It's no excuse," she said. "I went for this drop shot and it just locked up on me. I couldn't really rotate after that.
"It was a little painful, but it's OK."
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