Venus powers on after Ivanovic makes tearful exit

Thigh problem forces out stricken Serb as Williams reaches quarter-finals

The timing could not have been crueller. In hitting her only ace of a match in which she had been consistently outpowered by Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic felt something give way in her left thigh. After a medical time-out and two more points, the former French Open champion's Wimbledon was over as she retired in floods of tears with Williams leading 6-1, 0-1.

The injury looked only to have brought forward the inevitable. If Ivanovic's victory over Sam Stosur in the previous round had raised hopes that the 21-year-old Serb was recapturing something of the form that had taken her to No 1 in the world rankings 12 months ago, the evidence of her 47 minutes on Court One yesterday suggested that she still has plenty of work to do.

Ivanovic made a fair start, forcing three break points in the opening game, but in no time at all was 5-0 down. The world No 12 has one of the biggest forehands in the game, but she had no answer to the power of the defending champion, who pulled her from side to side with pounding groundstrokes, getting into the net to finish off the points whenever she could. Ivanovic's serve, meanwhile, looked in tatters. Time after time she had to halt her serve in mid-flow after failing to get her ball toss right.

There were sympathetic cheers when Ivanovic finally got on the scoreboard to trail 5-1, but Williams closed out the set in the following game with three service winners.

From 15-40 down at the start of the second set Ivanovic closed to deuce thanks to a Williams forehand error and the Serb's only ace, powered wide of the American's backhand. Ivanovic immediately called for the trainer and took a medical time-out to have her thigh strapped, but was clearly struggling to move when the match resumed. Ivanovic won the next two points and the game – ironically enough, it was the only time in the match when she won four points in a row – but knew she could not continue.

The tears were already flowing by the time Ivanovic shook hands with Williams at the net and her eyes were still moist when she arrived for her post-match press conference more than an hour later. "When I landed [after the ace] I just felt a sharp pain in my inner thigh and I haven't been able to step on my leg ever since," she said, fighting back the tears. "It's obviously very disappointing, especially as I felt my form was getting better and better."

Despite the fact that Williams had taken the first set with plenty to spare, Ivanovic found reasons for optimism. "If I had managed to break in the first game I think the first set would have looked a lot different," she said. "Even though the score was not indicating it, I thought it was pretty close. She wasn't making many mistakes.

"It was frustrating because I felt good out there. I was playing better each match. I just thought it was a great challenge for me today to play against someone like Venus."

Since winning last year's French Open Ivanovic has failed to go beyond the fourth round of five successive Grand Slam tournaments. In the run-up to Wimbledon she parted company with Craig Kardon, her coach of only four months. She was never the best of movers and often appeared uncomfortable at the net, but now she seems also to have lost the confidence in the big groundstrokes that were the foundation of her success.

By the time yesterday's match finished there was more tape on the court than on a cutting-room floor. Ivanovic had started with tape on her right knee, while her heavily strapped left thigh matched Williams' right knee. Although the defending champion did not seem restricted in her movement, her knee has been strapped since the second round and she has clearly been in pain. "I'm doing everything I can for my knee," Williams said after the match. "And this is Wimbledon, so it doesn't matter how much pain I'm in, I'm going to keep playing." Asked how bad the pain was, Williams replied: "I'm still smiling."

The world No 3, who now plays Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska in today's quarter-finals, was delighted with the way she had taken command of the first set. "I'm a control freak," she said. "I love controlling. I'm used to that. That's how I was taught to play, so I was pleased to go out there and play well against someone as good as her. She didn't have a lot of opportunities in that first set – and not because she wasn't playing well. I think I was just on top of the ball."

If you count yesterday's second set, Williams has now won 30 sets in a row here. The last time she dropped a set was in the third round two years ago, against Japan's Akiko Morigami. It might take a dodgy knee to end that sequence.

A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
Dominique Alderweireld, also known as Dodo de Saumure, is the owner of a string of brothels in Belgium
newsPhilip Sweeney gets the inside track on France's trial of the year
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge, Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 pictured in 2011.
musicBassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker say Tom Delonge is 'disrespectful and ungrateful'
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'
tvBroadchurch series 2, episode 4, review - contains spoilers
cyclingDisgraced cycling star says people will soon forgive his actions
Britain's Prince Philip attends a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran will play three sell-out gigs at Wembley Stadium in July
Lena Dunham posing for an official portrait at Sundance 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Under the skin: Sarah Kane in May 1998
theatreThe story behind a new season of Sarah Kane plays
Arts and Entertainment
Preening: Johnny Depp in 'Mortdecai'
filmMortdecai becomes actor's fifth consecutive box office bomb
Bradford City's reward for their memorable win over Chelsea is a trip to face either Sunderland or Fulham (Getty)
Lars Andersen took up archery in his mid thirties
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
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
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea