Serena Williams US Open semi-final defeat a 'monumental shock'

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Flushing Meadows
Serena Williams on shock exit from US Open
US Open women's final
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, Date: Saturday, 12 September
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app from 20:00 BST.

Serena Williams fell victim to one of the biggest shocks in tennis history at the US Open, said two-time champion Tracy Austin.

Williams, 33, was two wins from completing the calendar Grand Slam but lost 2-6 6-4 6-4 to unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci in the semi-finals.

"This is monumental. It's a shocker," Austin told BBC Sport.

"This is one of the biggest upsets in the history of tennis, because of what was on the line."

Williams went into Friday's semi-final on a 33-match winning streak in Grand Slams stretching back to Wimbledon 2014.

She had hoped to match Steffi Graf's 1988 sweep off all four majors in the same year, and was up against a player she had beaten four times without dropping a set.

Vinci, 32, is ranked 43 in the world and was playing in her first Grand Slam semi-final.

Roberta Vinci
Vinci had never won a set in four previous defeats against Serena Williams

"Roberta Vinci had a losing record coming into the US Open and somehow got hot," added Austin.

"Things went her way, the draw opened up, Genie Bouchard hit her head and couldn't play that match [in round four]. It's just the way things happen sometimes.

"That's why they put the net up every day. You've got to go out and handle the nerves.

"I always said Serena's biggest opponent coming into this year's US Open was going to be her own nerves."

'I don't want to talk about it'

Serena Williams
Williams has won the US Open six times in her career, the first coming in 1999

Williams was fulsome in her praise for Vinci, saying she "played literally out of her mind", but the American was not in the mood to discuss her own feelings.

"I don't want to talk about how disappointing it is for me," she said. "If you have any other questions, I'm open for that."

Tickets for the women's final had sold out before the men's for the first time ever as anticipation mounted in New York.

Elite club stays at three members
Only Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988) have achieved calendar Slams in the women's game.

Williams insisted throughout the tournament that she was relaxed about the challenge, and after her defeat said: "I told you guys I don't feel pressure. I never felt that pressure to win here. I said that from the beginning."

Her four-year unbeaten run at Flushing Meadows is over but there was a glimmer of positivity after what has been an incredible run at the majors.

"I did win three Grand Slams this year," said Williams. "I won four in a row. It's pretty good."

Serena Williams
Williams won Wimbledon in July to complete her second 'Serena Slam'

'I was a little bit scared'

Asked how nervous she felt Williams had become in the third set, Vinci was unequivocal: "A lot."

The Italian, who won over the crowd with an extravagant celebration during the final set, had not taken more than four games in a set off Williams in four previous matches.

Win over Williams 'magic moment' for Vinci

"This is the best match that I played in my life," she said. "At the end when I made a break, 4-3, and served, I was a little bit scared.

"But in my mind, I say, 'Don't think about this, because maybe you have more pressure. Stay calm, relax, and breathe during every single point.

"Don't think that you have Serena on the other side of the court.'"

She will now meet her good friend Pennetta in the final, 16 years after they won the French Open junior doubles title together.

"It's an incredible moment, but one Italian will win for sure," said Vinci.

Pennetta and Vinci
Who will win Saturday's final? Pennetta or Vinci?

'I saw it the first second...'

French coach Patrick Mouratoglou was more forthcoming than Williams in discussing her defeat.

"Today was not a good day, clearly," he said.

"I saw it the first second I saw her this morning, but still she could have made it. How many times did it happen and she found a way through?"

Serena stats
It was her first US Open loss since the 2011 final against Sam Stosur.
Her last defeat at a Grand Slam was by Alize Cornet at Wimbledon 2014.
It was only her fourth defeat in 26 Grand Slam semi-finals.
She still shares the Open era record of six US Open titles with Chris Evert.

It was only the American's third defeat of what has been a thoroughly dominant season.

"Every loss is very difficult, so it's going to be the same," said Mouratoglou. "When she lost in Toronto [last month] she told me she's tired of losing - she'd lost two matches this year."

He added: "In a way it's good. There is still this very high goal to make. In every bad news there is a good one."

Other big shocks in the women's game

Australian Open, 1984: Martina Navratilova loses to 19-year-old Helena Sukova in the semis, two matches from the calendar Slam.

Wimbledon 1994: Three-time defending champion Steffi Graf loses to American Lori McNeil in round one.

Wimbledon 1999: Top seed Martina Hingis loses to 16-year-old Australian Jelena Dokic in the first round.

French Open 2012: Serena Williams loses to Virginie Razzano, her only first-round loss at a Grand Slam.

Serena Williams
World number 111 Virginie Razzano beat fifth seed Serena Wiliams at the 2012 French Open
Serena's Grand Slam singles titles
Australian Open (6)2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015
French Open (3)2002, 2013, 2015
Wimbledon (6)2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015
US Open (6)1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014

Top Stories