The Number 1 ranked Serena Williams dropped 17 consecutive points during one stretch, climbed all the way back to within a point of victory, then faded late and lost to No. 7 Samantha Stosur of Australia 6-2, 6-7 (2), 8-6 on Wednesday in the Roland Garros quarterfinals.
“Had I played better for two minutes, maybe the result could have been different. But it didn’t work out,” said Williams, who missed a forehand by an inch or so when she held a match point at 5-4 in the final set. “Just wasn’t playing well today. Last year, I choked. I guess it’s a redundant story with me.”
The upset was Stosur’s second in a row. She eliminated four-time champion Justine Henin in the fourth round and came a day after men’s No. 1 and defending champion Roger Federer was stunned by Robin Soderling.
“It’s not over yet,” said Stosur, a tour-best 19-2 on clay this season and a 2009 French Open semi-finalist. “I want to definitely try and keep going.”
In one women’s semi-final Thursday, Stosur will play No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, who got past unseeded Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-4. No. 5 Elena Dementieva will face No. 17 Francesca Schiavone in the other.
None of the four women left has won a Grand Slam singles title. Williams owns 12, with five at the Australian Open including this year and three apiece at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. The one at the French Open came in 2002, and she was a semi-finalist in Paris the following year, but not since.
“Maybe she was trying to get over that hump,” said Williams’ mother, Oracene Price. “That might have been on her mind.”
Her own serve was a friend accumulating 13 aces, and a foe yielding nine double-faults. The rest of Williams’ strokes were a mixed bag, too: She finished with more winners than Stosur, 39-30, and nearly twice as many unforced errors, 46-24.
“I definitely was nowhere near my best today,” Williams said, then added: “But she played really well.”
About an hour after that loss, Williams went back on court to team with her older sister Venus and reach the women’s doubles final by beating Liezel Huber and Anabel Medina Garrigues 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. That victory means Serena Williams will top the WTA rankings in singles and doubles as of next week.