Wimbledon 2011: Serena and Venus Williams both beaten

By David Ornstein and Anna ThompsonBBC Sport at Wimbledon

Serena and Venus Williams both suffered shock fourth round exits on a dramatic afternoon at Wimbledon.

Serena saw the defence of her title come to an end with a 6-3 7-6 (8-6) defeat by Marion Bartoli of France.

The 13-time Grand Slam champions will now drop to about 175th in the world as Bartoli goes on to play Sabine Lisicki.

Venus went down 6-2 6-3 to Tsvetana Pironkova, who beat her by the same scoreline in the 2010 quarter-finals and will next face Petra Kvitova.

The Williams sisters had won nine out of the last 11 Wimbledon singles titles but their defeats mean this is the first time in the Open Era that all of the quarter-finalists have come from Europe.

Serena, who recently returned from a year out with injury and illness, becomes just the fourth women's defending champion in the Open Era to fall before the last eight.

"I obviously would have loved to do better but considering the condition I was in, considering a lot of things, I really feel I did well," said the 29-year-old.

"I made an effort to get out here and play a couple of tournaments. I just can't sit here and be disappointed. For the most part, I can just use this as momentum going forward.

"I can only get better and that can potentially be really scary, because I can only go up from here and I can just do so much more."

Bartoli memorably beat Justine Henin to reach the 2007 final before losing to Venus in the championship match, and she will be confident of reaching that stage again after this stunning win on Court One.

She broke Serena in the sixth game and eventually won the first set on her fifth set point with a thunderous ace down the middle.

Bartoli let out a huge cry of "Allez!" and raised her fist in the direction of her father and coach Walter, who she banished from the stands during her epic third-round win against Flavia Pennetta.

Neither player had a look-in on the other's serve until game 11 of the second set, when Serena drove two backhands beyond the baseline to hand Bartoli a 6-5 lead.

However, the pressure of serving out appeared to get to the Frenchwoman as she squandered three match points before Serena struck back with a blistering backhand return.

A tie-break beckoned and after mini-breaks were exchanged early on, Serena saved a third match point - but Bartoli engineered a fifth opportunity and came up with an unreturnable serve to seal victory.

"Usually during matches when I was playing against some great champions like Serena, I was a bit shy, not showing too much on the court," stated the ninth seed.

"It's really important for me to believe that I can win the match and act like a winner. This kind of attitude really helped me get through the match."

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus arrived on Centre Court within minutes of her sister's defeat.

Pironkova had won just four matches this season before Wimbledon, but the grass seems to have rejuvenated her and she came into the match having not lost a set at the Championships.

She broke Venus in the sixth game and again as the 23rd seed served to stay in the first set. The American looked rusty with a number of unforced errors, winning 61% of points on her first serve, compared to Pironkova's 90%

The Bulgarian got an early break in the second set but Venus fought back to 3-2 before Pironkova once again secured a two-game cushion. Venus missed a chance to break in the seventh game as Pironkova moved 5-2 ahead.

After Venus held, the 32nd seed served out to 15 and told BBC Sport: "I beat her two times, two consecutive times and it feels amazing, I'm extremely happy right now.

"When I come here I feel relaxed, I like the atmosphere."

Venus added: "This was definitely not our [the Williams sisters'] best day. We both envisioned seeing this day going a little bit differently.

"We both want each other to win but unfortunately we weren't able to. We rarely lose on the same day.

"These matches you have to go out and win. No-one gives it to you. It's very competitive nowadays. If you don't come out serving and running and hitting the ball in the court then you're not going to win the match."

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