Venus Williams joins sister in shock exit
Venus Williams followed sister Serena out of Wimbledon after her 6-2 6-3 defeat by Tsvetana Pironkova ended American involvement in the women's singles.
Little over an hour after Serena had been sent tumbling out with a straight-sets defeat by Marion Bartoli, Venus was comprehensively outplayed by the Bulgarian 32nd seed.
It means this year will be the first since 2006 that neither Williams sister has won Wimbledon.
Five-time champion Venus was playing only her second tournament since withdrawing from the Australian Open with a hip injury and she was well short of her best today.
The repeat of last year's quarter-final resulted in an identical outcome as the highly-impressive Pironkova, 23, made light work of the fourth-round match.
Williams, who has reached at least the quarter-finals on 11 of her 14 previous visits to Wimbledon, struggled to find her range and was frequently foiled by the net.
Pironkova accounted for second seed Vera Zvonareva in the previous round and will next meet Petra Kvitova for a place in the last four - a remarkable run for a player who had won just four matches in 14 tournaments this year heading into Wimbledon.
The one-way traffic began in the first set when Williams' serve came under sustained attack in the sixth game and she crumbled after conceding a second break point.
Poor stroke selection from the American, making her 15th appearance at Wimbledon, allowed Pironkova to produce a stinging passing shot that was returned into the net.
Pironkova was trading on equal terms from the baseline and made light work of her next service game to move 5-2 ahead.
Hoping to find refuge on her own serve, Williams instead fell to pieces as she conceding three break points, the third of which she directed into the net.
The problems continued to mount early in the second set for Williams, who was being cheered on by all-time great Billie Jean King, as Pironkova broke once more.
The net emerged as the American's chief tormentor as it came to Pironkova's rescue on two occasions and the Wimbledon exit beckoned for the 23rd seed.
Athletic and composed, Pironkova looked in complete control until a glimmer of hope appeared for Williams in the fifth game with a vicious backhand establishing break point.
The game was proving a key battleground in the set and Williams rose to the occasion, wasting the first chance to break but capitalising on a second by outgunning her opponent from the baseline.
The respite was short-lived, however, and Williams only had herself to blame as she made a series of errors to enable Pironkova to break back immediately.
Two big serves and a sensational backhand passing shot dug Pironkova out of trouble in the seventh.
Three match points followed in the ninth and Pironkova excelled during the second, firing a lightning serve and forehand winner to close out her triumph.
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