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
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.

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore