Jankovic ends era of dominance by Williams sisters

The era of the Williams sisters' dominance at Wimbledon is over, perhaps for good, but the Williams conundrum rumbles on. With Venus, the defending champion, crashing out to Serbia's Jelena Jankovic on Saturday in the third round, there will be no Williams representative in the women's final here for the first time since 1999.

Venus has not left the building entirely: she is scheduled to play today in the mixed doubles with Bob Bryan. Evidently she feels fit and healthy enough to do so. She was here at the All England Club yesterday, looking relaxed despite her singles exit, and at ease enough to stand for 20 minutes in the shade of the press centre while talking happily on her mobile and simultaneously sending an e-mail.

Yet her continuation in the doubles raises questions over the severity of the wrist problem that she cited on Saturday as one reason for her defeat. If the problem is so bad - on the practice courts last week there was talk of tendon trouble - why risk competitive doubles? A desire not to break the commitment to Bryan? And if it's not that bad, why was she beaten by Jankovic? Lack of matches this year is one reason.

Saturday's loss was so unexpected that Venus's father, Richard, resorted to yelling from the stands, urging his daughter to "pick up your game" and shouting: "What's wrong with you Venus?" Venus said afterwards: "The job of your supporters is to support you. He does that well."

As for Serena, who is not even here, we are no closer to knowing when she might return to action, or how competitive she will be if she does.

The Williams enigma is underlined by their virtual annexation of the tournament in the past six years. After Lindsay Davenport beat Steffi Graf in 1999, Venus won in 2000 and 2001 (against Davenport and then Justine Henin), Serena won in 2002 and 2003, beating Venus in both finals, and made the 2004 final (losing to Maria Sharapova), before Venus restored the winning habit last year, against Davenport.

For one sister to fail even to attend, and for the other to be knocked out before the second week, is a mark of their decline. Only the superstitious will give much weight to the fact that Venus lost to Jankovic on Court Two, the so-called graveyard of champions, the same court where Serena made such an ignominious exit last year at the hands of the diminutive world No85, Jill Craybas. Venus said afterwards that her injury was an issue in her defeat. "I wasn't able to play my best," she said. "I was having problems with my left wrist. It made it very, very tough."

She was also unsettled by Jankovic serving before she was quite ready to receive. In the third set, with Venus 2-0 up, she asked the umpire to intervene. "When I was walking to the line, she would serve immediately, which made it difficult to get ready," Venus said. "I just think that maybe she plays at that pace."

Jankovic was asked to wait until Venus was ready to receive serve, but rather than handing Venus an advantage, it helped her opponent. This was doubly strange because Jankovic has been known to choke when way ahead, let alone when a break down in the decider.

Jankovic said her high tempo between points was not a deliberate ploy to unsettle Venus. "That's just the way I play," she explained. "I'm so excited that I won this match. I was so nervous at the end that the racket felt like it weighed 30 pounds."

Jankovic now faces the former French Open champion, Anastasia Myskina. Another Roland Garros winner, Justine Henin-Hardenne, will open proceedings on Centre Court today against Daniela Hantuchova. Shenay Perry, 21, is the only American left in the last 16, or indeed in either singles draw after the United States' worst showing here for 84 years. She now plays Russia's Elena Dementieva. Two minnows looking for upsets will be Severine Bremond, a French qualifier, and Agnieszka Radwanska, a 17-year-old Polish wild card, who face Ai Sugiyama and Kim Clijsters respectively.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments