Wimbledon 2013: It's Christmas for Serena Williams as major rivals Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka make early exit

 

Serena Williams must think it's Christmas. Already favourite to win a sixth Wimbledon singles crown, her odds tumbled dramatically after a day of carnage, which saw third seed Maria Sharapova top the list of casualties, albeit on foot, if only just.

Sharapova's demise on Court No 2, an inhospitable host that retains the old graveyard status despite being re-sited on the far southwest part of the grounds, followed the earlier withdrawal though injury of second seed Victoria Azarenka, one of seven victims to suffer enforced absence.

If that were not helpful enough, former world no.1 and ninth seed Caroline Wozniacki, admittedly not the threat she has been, perished on the same No 2 court in front of beau Rory McIlroy. Love conquered nothing.

Sharapova required treatment of court after a heavy fall during the second set and fought like a beast to stay in the tournament on her return, saving four match points before falling to Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito 3-6, 4-6.

“I give her a lot of credit. She played well today. I just wasn't there,” said Sharapova, who refused to make an excuse of the conditions, though she made it clear the slippery surface was unhelpful. “Those are the conditions that are there for my opponent as well. I just took a lot more falls. She was solid and didn't make many mistakes.”

De Brito described the result as the best of her career. “A little bit of shock but really excited,” said de Brito. “It feels amazing. I can't believe it. I just went for it, gave it may all. To be in the third round is just unbelievable. To get through qualies was amazing, and now I'm in the third round.” 

De Brito acknowledged the court was tricky. “She fell pretty hard. These grass courts can be slippery and quite dangerous. There was a lot of dead grass on the top which makes it quite slippery, a tough court to play on.”

Wozniacki slipped heavily during the fourth game of the first set against Petra Cetkovska and never recovered. She immediately called for the trainer and received treatment at courtside, where her left ankle was strapped.

Wozniacki was clearly suffering when play resumed and quickly surrendered the point that gave Cetkovska a 3-1 lead. At 5-2 the trainer returned to reapply the tape, but could not alter the course of the set or the match, which she lost 6-2, 6-2.

“I don't know if I was unlucky,”Wozniacki said. “I definitely slipped straight on, which I wasn't expecting. Normally on the grass you can expect to slide but not really when you have a full grip underneath with your shoes. You should be able to stand comfortably. Once you slip you can't run down balls like before. ”

Azarenka's late withdrawal forced a hasty rescheduling on Centre Court at the start of play, with former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and Genie Bouchard switching from Court 12. Bouchard rose to the new setting to record a straight sets victory, 6-3, 6-3.

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests