Knocked off by French­woman Cor­net in third round

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - SPORTS TENNIS - By Howard Fen­drich

LON­DON — All of a sud­den, Ser­ena Wil­liams is fail­ing to stick around for long at Grand Slam tour­na­ments.

Be­trayed by her back­hand and, more sur­pris­ingly, her usu­ally dan­ger­ous serve, five-time Wim­ble­don cham­pion Wil­liams lost to 25thseeded Al­ize Cor­net of France 1- 6, 6-3, 6- 4 Satur­day in the third round at the All Eng­land Club.

“If I’m not play­ing a great, great match, these girls, when they play me, they play as if they’re on the ATP Tour, and then they play other girls com­pletely dif­fer­ent,” Wil­liams said, rolling her eyes. “It’s never easy be­ing in my shoes.”

It’s her ear­li­est exit at the All Eng­land Club since 2005, when she also was beaten in the third round. Wil­liams won the ti­tle in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

“I don’t know how I did it,” Cor­net said. “Just with my heart — and the help of the crowd.”

The No. 1-ranked and No. 1-seeded Wil­liams owns 17 Grand Slam ti­tles, one fewer than Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, but she now has de­parted be­fore the quar­ter-fi­nals at four of the past five ma­jors. There were fourth-round losses at Wim­ble­don last year and at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary, and a sec­ond-round loss at the French Open in May.

“Aus­tralia, I just couldn’t play. And Paris I played re­ally bad. Here, I ac­tu­ally thought I played bet­ter,” she said. “I’m go­ing to have to watch this film.”

Cor­net also beat the 32-year- old Amer­i­can at the Dubai Cham­pi­onships in Fe­bru­ary. Still, this re­sult was rather un­ex­pected, given their Grand Slam ca­reers. Cor­net never had been past the third round at Wim­ble­don, and she only once be­fore reached a ma­jor’s fourth round, in 2009.

Satur­day’s match was halted in the third game be­cause of rain. Af­ter a de­lay of about 4 ½ hours, Wil­liams was ter­rific, reel­ing off five games to grab the first set.

Things changed dra­mat­i­cally. Cor­net be­gan putting shots right where she wanted them, while Wil­liams had trou­ble find­ing the mark. Wil­liams wound up with 29 un­forced er­rors, 11 more than Cor­net.

“She helped me a lit­tle bit,” Cor­net said.

Two par­tic­u­lar strokes trou­bled Wil­liams: Her serve let her down re­peat­edly, with a to­tal of seven dou­ble-faults and five breaks; her back­hand pro­duced 12 un­forced er­rors.

In the third set, Cor­net led 5-2 but was bro­ken serv­ing for the match. On her sec­ond chance, she stead­ied her­self, de­liv­er­ing a per­fect drop shot on match point.

When Wil­liams net­ted the re­sponse, Cor­net pounded her chest with her fist. Then she hopped around Court 1, be­fore kneel­ing to kiss the grass.

Cor­net had been 0-13 against top-20 op­po­nents in Grand Slam matches.

“I don’t re­ally know what I did wrong,” said Wil­liams, whose sis­ter Venus lost Fri­day. “Usu­ally I do. Usu­ally I know I did this, this, and that.”

It was by far the most sig­nif­i­cant — and sur­pris­ing — out­come on a wet day full of starts and stops.

SANG TAN / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ser­ena Wil­liams couldn’t serve or hit a back­hand Satur­day, and the forehand wasn’t great ei­ther.

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