Serena Williams 'relieved' painful Slam is over
Serena Williams arrived at the Australian Open as the red-hot favourite but left it in pain after what she described as the worst two weeks she had ever experienced at a Grand Slam tournament.
Having struggled to overcome an ankle injury sustained in the first round, Williams hurt her back in the quarter-finals yesterday and was beaten 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 by Sloane Stephens. It was Williams's first defeat for five months and her first at a Grand Slam tournament since last year's French Open.
Williams said she was "almost relieved that it's over because there's only so much I felt I could do". She explained: "I've had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big every day, and my back, which started hurting."
It says much for the 15-times Grand Slam champion's ability and resilience that she got as far as she did with the ankle injury she sustained in a fall last week. The world No 3 dropped only eight games en route to the quarter-finals and was a set up against her American protégé when she hurt her back in the eighth game of the second set.
One bookmaker reported that Williams was 750-1 on in in-play betting at one stage, but the injury changed the match. Williams left the court for treatment, but thereafter there were times when she barely served at half-pace, while her movement was clearly impaired.
Williams's frustrations got the better of her when she smashed a racket in the third set. "I even had a wry smile on my lips after that," she said. "It made me happy, unfortunately."
Stephens, meanwhile, handled her first Grand Slam quarter-final with great composure. Having started tentatively, she went on the attack after going 2-0 down in the second set. "From then on I got aggressive, started coming to the net more," she said.
Before Stephens left the court she checked her phone for messages. She revealed later that she had received more than 200 texts and that her number of Twitter followers had just doubled to 35,000.
"I thought it was free to receive text messages, but someone told me otherwise," the 19-year-old said. "My phone bill is going to be crazy and my mum is going to be like, 'Oh, my God, your phone bill. The money you were going to buy yourself something nice with, you're going to pay your phone bill'."
In today's semi-finals Stephens was meeting Victoria Azarenka, a 7-5, 6-1 winner over Svetlana Kuznetsova, while Maria Sharapova was taking on Li Na.
The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Why Isco will provide just as great a threat at Anfield as the injured Gareth Bale would have
Angel Di Maria injury: Manchester United sweat over fitness of record signing as he is in danger of missing Chelsea clash
West Brom vs Manchester United player ratings: Saido Berahino scores highest, whilst Marcos Rojo scores lowest
Video: Boxer Vido Loncar brutally assaults referee following defeat
- 1 Salisbury ranked seventh-best city in the world to visit in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015
- 2 Disney announces new female-led film Moana
- 3 Banksy has not been arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
- 5 Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world