Tie-break confusion as Sprem knocks out Williams

Venus Williams crashed out of Wimbledon yesterday at the hands of an aggressive 19-year-old who simply, and with brutal beauty, decided to out-hit the two-time champion who has featured in the last four finals. A powerful new force in the women's game, in the shape of Karolina Sprem, blew into Centre Court.

Venus Williams crashed out of Wimbledon yesterday at the hands of an aggressive 19-year-old who simply, and with brutal beauty, decided to out-hit the two-time champion who has featured in the last four finals. A powerful new force in the women's game, in the shape of Karolina Sprem, blew into Centre Court.

But the result will be over-shadowed by the storm whipped up after an extraordinary error by the umpire, Ted Watts, who wrongly awarded a point to Sprem in the second-set tie-break. Instead of calling the score at 2-1 to Williams, and a second serve by Sprem, he announced it was 2-2. Amazingly neither player, although clearly confused, queried the mistake and the match continued with the young Croat going on to win 7-6, 7-6.

Williams, though insisting she was not affected, served a fifth double-fault for match point. "It was very confusing," she said. "Sometimes I do lose track of the score, and I just felt that maybe... maybe I lost track again." She said it was not in her nature to query calls while Sprem simply said, implausibly, that she was "100 per cent" focussed and did not notice.

The tournament referee, Alan Mills, admitted: "It's a bizarre situation but unfortunately the way it happened, Venus did not query it and they played point after point and the result stands. I'm afraid Venus has left the tournament." Watts may do so also.

The incident dominated, which for Sprem is a shame as she fully deserved her victory. The way in which she pulled her opponent around the court, from corner to corner, was reminiscent of Monica Seles. And this from a player who was last year ranked 273rd in the world. But there is an unerring upward-mobility to her even if her career earnings stand at a modest $106,283. That is about to change. "I need more matches like today, to play against big players," Sprem said, admitting she also needed to eradicate a tendency to lose to lowly-ranked opponents.

The hitting was simply sensational and with it Sprem pushed Williams back, not allowing her to play her own game and forcing her to hit long. There were warning signs the last time the pair met, just a few weeks ago on the clay in Berlin when Williams dropped the first set, and was 3-0 down in the second, before winning.

"I don't think one call makes the match," said Williams of yesterday's reversal. "I had some opportunities". Indeed she did. Williams showed a customary tenacity which allowed her to earn two set points in the first set and three in the second. None was taken.

Instead, Williams netted twice in the first-set tie-break, under severe pressure, and struggled in the second when Sprem was close to going 5-2 ahead. It appeared that her nerves were beginning to show. As were Williams's. She lost her serve to love and was on the back foot again. Sprem wobbled, her groundstrokes were long but it went to a tie-break and, despite the mayhem, she held her nerve even if the umpire did not. "When I played in America against Serena I was scared," said Sprem of the Williams sisters. Yesterday she wasn't.

Another former champion also bowed out but the 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat of the 47-year-old Martina Navratilova by Gisela Dulko, ranked 59 in the world and an astonishing 28 years her junior, was less of a surprise. Dulko, whose mother is the same age as Navratilova, had also triumphed when the two met in the first round of the French Open.

There were efficient straight-sets victories for the highly rated fourth seed, Amélie Mauresmo, tipped by some, including Navratilova, as a potential champion, and the dangerous Jennifer Capriati who is also highly rated. With Venus out, their chances increased.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine