The Williams sisters live together and play together and at the French Open here yesterday they lost together. Both went out in the third round, Serena losing 6-4, 6-4 to Katarina Srebotnik, of Slovenia, and Venus going down 7-5, 6-3 to Italy's Flavia Pennetta in the day's final match.
Serena's exit means that Roland Garros will crown a new women's champion next week. The only former winner in the draw following the retirement of Justine Henin, the world No 5 was the pre-tournament favourite after recent victories in Miami and Charleston but had not looked at her best in her previous two matches.
Making her earliest exit here for nine years, Williams played poorly on nearly all the key points against Srebotnik, converting only one of eight break opportunities. Her day was summed up on the world No 24's third match point, when she hit a terrible forehand out.
"I missed a lot of easy shots that could have turned the match around," Williams said afterwards. "She was getting balls back and making shots she has never made before, otherwise she would probably be in the top two."
Williams' potential quarter-final opponent had been Ana Ivanovic, the world No 2, who overcame a shaky start to beat Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets. Maria Sharapova, the world No 1, went through despite dropping a set to Bethanie Mattek.