In Depth

‘It’s unprofessional - it’s not cool’: Serena Williams shocked at Australian Open

China’s Wang Qiang takes advantage of American’s mistakes in Melbourne

The fading powers of Serena Williams were brutally exposed by China’s Wang Qiang in the third round of the Australian Open this morning as the American was beaten 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5.

Williams, who has won this tournament seven times, suffered her earliest exit from the Australian Open in 14 years, as she was outplayed by the 27th seed. 

The last time the pair met in a major was last year’s US Open quarter-final and Williams thrashed Qiang 6-1, 6-0 in 44 cruel minutes.

“After the second set I was a little bit confused, but my mind always said I had to focus on the court, on every point and trust myself,” said Wang, who will play Tunisian Ons Jabeur in the fourth round. 

Age is a cruel opponent

The defeat is a bitter reminder to Williams that age is a merciless opponent and the 38-year-old’s quest to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles looks to be beyond her diminishing powers. 

It’s now three years since her last grand slam triumph - the 2017 Australian Open - and the prospects of her adding another seem remote.

The next chance will be in Paris in May, but of the four grand slam venues the French Open is her least successful with only three titles, the most recent in 2015. 

There was an era when Williams dominated Wimbledon, winning five titles between 2009 and 2016, but grass is a surface best suited to youthful athleticism.

Then there’s the US Open in September - the month Williams turns 39 - but 2014 was the last time she triumphed at Flushing Meadows.

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Not cool

“I didn’t return like Serena,” Williams said when asked to assess why she suffered what the media is calling a shock defeat. 

“Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, I lost that match. I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. It’s unprofessional. It’s not cool.”

Informed by the press that she had made 56 errors, compared to Wang’s 20, Williams muttered: “I’m better than that.”

Twitter reactions to Serena’s defeat

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