Tennis superstar Serena Williams recorded her first loss to an opponent outside of the WTA top 100 in eight years on Friday. She lost 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to Shelby Rogers, ranked No. 116, in the Top Seed Open quarterfinals.
In her 967 professional tour-level singles matches Williams has just four losses against opponents who ranked outside the top 100 at the time. This is Rogers’ third win against a top-10 opponent, and with it, her first WTA semifinal since 2016.
Williams took the opening set but faced some problems down the road and Rogers took six of the last eight points after she trailed 3-1.
Rogers spoke about what a win against an opponent as iconic as Williams means to her. She said (via Associated Press):
“It’s every kid’s dream when they’re growing up, watching her play, to be able to do something like that. Weird circumstances, weird setting, but a win is a win and I know we’re all just happy to be back playing.”
Williams reflected as well, emphasizing that she knows she can step up her performance.
“I kind of made it difficult for myself by making a plethora of unforced errors,” Williams said.
Williams added: “It’s good to know. I can play a lot, lot, lot better.” She will have the chance to improve her play at the U.S. Open, which starts Aug. 31. Because of social distancing guidelines, limited people were in the stands and Williams and Rogers did not shake hands or meet at the net following the match.
Rogers will see Jil Teichmann in the semifinals on Saturday. The other semifinal will be Jennifer Brady facing either 16-year-old Coco Gauff or No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur.