Yesterday was a record breaking day for Serena Williams at the 2013 Australian Open in Melbourne Australia. However these were not records that she wanted broken. Yesterday marked the first time the 31-year-old tennis player has ever lost to an American younger than her. During the Australian Open Quarterfinals game, she played up and coming American Sloane Stephens who is just shy of her 20th birthday. Serena’s twenty match win streak came to an end as she battled Sloane and loss with a 6-3, 5-7, 4-6 three match set. This was the second time the pair played each other, although with opposite results.
Williams suffered a back and ankle injury during the second match and it was apparent from the lack of power in her serve that she was in pain. She called for a medical timeout, but the damage was done. Sloane was a shark who smelled blood, playing close to the net, leaving no easy shots for 15-time Grand Slam champion. And her frustration showed, as she pummeled her racket on the ground after losing a point.
Stephens was stunned but focused after the win. Having grown up watching the Williams sisters dominate tennis, and having Serena Williams’ poster on her wall, the moment was very surreal. And she was gracious winner. She did not scream or jump and down. A subtle fist-pump and a huge grin was all she exhibited. Williams regained her composure and her sportsmanship and gave the young player a handshake before exiting the court.
As amazing and unbelievable a win it was for the 29th seed player, it was equally as disappointing for the vet. Time waits for no athlete, and even the greats age. This match marks the first time she was defeated by a younger American. To her credit, she wasn’t playing at 100%, her injuries definitely tipping the odds in Stephens favor (click here to see Serena’s swollen ankle). Although Serena’s career and reign as the most dominate women’s tennis player in the world today is far from over, yesterday’s loss does open up the possibility that there is new blood in the American tennis circuit and they are gunning for the top spot. The Williams sisters better be careful.
As for Sloane Stephens, there was no party Wednesday. Today she faces the No. 1 seed Victoria Azarenka in the Finals.
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