Monday, June 27, 2011

Serena Williams Is Eliminated at Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON, England — After watching Serena Williams come back from career-threatening health problems and after watching her save four match points in grand style against Marion Bartoli on Monday, it was beginning to seem like nothing was capable of keeping her down at Wimbledon this year.
But logic eventually prevailed on Court 1 as Bartoli, to her feisty and full-swinging credit, stared down all of Williams’s evident desire and closed out her 6-3, 7-6 (6) victory with a flat service winner to the corner.
In a normal year, this would have been considered a massive upset, but this has been far from a normal year for Williams, the 29-year-old defending champion who missed nearly 11 months of competition and only returned to action at the grass-court tournament in Eastbourne the week before Wimbledon.
But though she proved capable of some inspirational tennis at the All England Club, she was not capable of defending her title and her fourth-round defeat was her earliest here since 2005, when she was upset — truly upset — by her fellow American Jill Craybas. She will drop well out of the top 100 in the rankings after the loss.
Bartoli, seeded ninth, has played and won many more matches of late than Williams, reaching the semifinals at the French Open and winning in Eastbourne. She has had a wild ride at Wimbledon, however. She had to save three match points in the second round against Lourdes Dominguez Lino and then asked her parents to leave the court in the third round after she lost the opening set to Flavia Pennetta.
“For 10 seconds I lost my mind,” said Bartoli, who later apologized to her parents.
But Bartoli’s father, Walter, who has been her coach since childhood, was back in the stands Monday and got the chance to watch his daughter play one of the finest matches of her career.
“I think this match against Flavia helped me today to step up and during those tough moments really play some great points,” said Bartoli, 26, who was a surprise finalist here in 2007.
Bartoli lost to Williams’s older sister Venus in that final. But she has now beaten a Williams at Wimbledon, and one of the keys was her serve. She finished with 10 aces to Williams’s 8 and was able to consistently surprise her taller, more powerfully built opponent.
But Bartoli faltered when she served for the match at 6-5 in the second set and led, 40-15. But Williams saved the first match point when Bartoli missed a backhand at the end of an extended rally. Williams saved the second by crushing a backhand return winner off a second serve. She saved a third match point by finishing off another extended rally with an overhead.
They were soon in a tiebreaker, where Williams saved another match point with an ace to get to 6-6. But Bartoli was able to respond once more. Williams missed her first serve on the next point and then hit a backhand in the net. Bartoli had her fifth match point, and after a practice swing and a leap in the air, she delivered her flat first serve.
Though Williams touched it with her frame, she could not touch it with her strings.
“You cannot say because I beat Serena I’m going to win the whole thing,” said Bartoli, who will now face wild-card Sabine Lisicki on Tuesday. “I know tomorrow is going to be another day.”

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