Serena Williams says she is partly relieved that her injury plagued Australian Open campaign is over after the tournament favourite was knocked out by American teenager Sloane Stephens today.
Williams lost the match 3-6 7-5 6-4 in a stunning upset which has turned the Australian Open on its head.
Williams was in a good position but hurt her back while chasing down a shot close to the net which gave her little time to stop.
She avoided making contact with the net, but immediately looked sore and called for a trainer after labouring through the next points.
Williams left the court after being assessed and received treatment before fighting hard to stay alive in the tournament.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner’ first serve speed fell from 168km/hr from the previous two service games to just 132km/hr in the game after the injury.
Williams rediscovered her power during the third set but Stephens’ confidence had already risen after claiming the second set.
Williams had already faced injury troubles throughout the tournament.
She has carried ankle and back problems and also accidentally struck herself in the face with her racquet.
An emotional Williams said nothing had gone to plan.
“I've had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big every day, and my back, which started hurting,” she said.
“Oh, my gosh, I'm almost relieved that it's over because there's only so much I felt I could do.”
Paying just $1.01 to win with Player, Williams took out her frustration on her own racquet today by slamming into the court and shattering it during the third set.
Williams said the injury didn’t stop her from running, but it made it hard to turn to play strokes.
“A few days ago it just got really tight and I had no rotation on it,” Williams said.
“I went for this dropshot in the second set and it just locked up on me.
“I couldn't really rotate after that, which I guess is normal. I don't know.
“It's hard to rotate to the backhand. It was giving me trouble.”
Stephens is playing just her seventh Grand Slam and had never progressed beyond the fourth round before this year.
The 19-year-old idolised Williams and will now play world number one Victoria Azarenka in the semi-final.China’s Li Na and Russia’s Maria Sharapova are the other two players remaining in the tournament.
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