Serena Williams Upset by Elena Rybakina in 2 Sets at 2021 French Open
ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images
Serena Williams was knocked out of 2021 French Open after Elena Rybakina earned a 6-3, 7-5 upset in the fourth round Sunday.
Rybakina needed just one hour and 17 minutes to secure the win, which featured five breaks over the two sets and 49 percent of return points won.
Williams has not reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros since ending as the runner-up in 2016 and she has been stuck on 23 career Grand Slam titles since her 2017 Australian Open title.
This was already Rybakina’s deepest run at a Grand Slam and the 21-year-old will now make her first quarterfinal appearance against No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who upset Victoria Azarenka earlier in the day.
Williams entered the match as the much bigger name with a more impressive resume, but it was Rybakina who won her first three matches of this event in straight sets. The No. 21 seed kept the momentum going against the seventh-seeded Williams.
Rybakina won two breaks in the first set on the way to a 6-3 win to put the American in trouble:
The Kazakhstan native gained even more control with an early break in the second set and more quality winners.
Williams fought back and eventually led 3-2 and 5-4 after breaks, looking like she would even up the match with a second-set victory.
It wasn’t meant to be as sloppy play held back the superstar, finishing the day with 19 unforced errors and just 15 winners. She also got only 57 percent of her first serves in play.
After a break in the 11th game of the set, Rybakina closed out the match with her serve for arguably the biggest win in her young career.
Williams has had an up-and-down 2021 season where she has been limited by a shoulder injury and inconsistency. She reached the Australian Open semifinals but went 1-2 over her next two tournaments in May, both on clay in Italy.
A fourth-round exit in Paris represents more disappointment for a player who has won this event three times. The 39-year-old will now look to bounce back by Wimbledon, scheduled to begin on June 28.
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