Add Serena Williams to a growing list of recognizable names to see an early exit from this year’s French Open.
With the temperature topping 80 degrees in Paris, Williams, ranked 10th in the world, and rounding into form after an injury from earlier in the year, became the latest highly decorated player to flame out of the tournament, losing to unranked Sofia Kenin 6-2, 7-5, in the third round, hours after world number one Naomi Osaka lost.
This year marks Williams’ earliest French Open exit since her second-round loss in 2014. With her loss, she joins fellow top-10 players Karolina Piskova, Kiki Bertens, Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina, who’ve all suffered early exits.
Williams, who looked to be cruising in her first two matches, had 34 unforced errors to Kenin’s 17 and won a lower percentage of her serve points. Kenin, 20, grew up idolizing the legend.
“I have so much respect for Serena. She’s done so much for tennis, for American tennis,” Kenin told ESPN. “I watched her so much growing up, along with [Maria] Sharapova and other players, of course. It’s just crazy, I would have never guessed that in a few years I’d be playing Serena Williams in the third round at Roland Garros. I would have been jumping off the couch back then.”
While Williams may be battling a bum ankle and Father Time, Osaka did a great job beating herself, falling too far behind Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.
Osaka lost 6-4, 6-2 to the 42nd-ranked Siniakova, after winning her last 16 matches at major tournaments, including last year’s U.S. Open and the Australian Open in January.
But after trailing by a set in each of her previous Roland Garros wins this year, Osaka didn’t have the firepower to mount another comeback, ending the match with an uncharacteristic 38 unforced errors, according to the New York Daily News.