Seven-times champion Serena Williams suffered her earliest exit from the Australian Open in 14 years on Friday, falling 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang in a stunning third round upset.
Wang, who was thrashed by Williams in the U.S. Open quarter-finals, ended the American’s bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park.
Wang clawed her way back in the first set after falling into a 2-1 hole early to take the early lead, and then jumped up to a big 4-2 lead in the second — seemingly putting Williams’ away early.
That, though, is when the 13-time Grand Slam winner turned it on. Williams quickly pushed back to tie up the second set and force a tiebreaker, which she won handily to keep herself alive.
In the end, though, it wasn’t enough. Wang held on in the final set to grab the upset win and punch her first ever ticket to the Round of 16 in Melbourne.
“I have to be calm,” Wang said of her mindset during the second set. “[I was] a little bit confused inside, but my mind always told me I had to focus on the court, focus on every point and trust myself.”