Serena Williams’s quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title fell short as she ended with a shock loss to Elena Rybakina in the French Open last 16 on Sunday.
The 39-year-old American went down 6-3, 7-5 at Roland Garros to the Kazakh 21st seed, leaving her still one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record for most Grand Slam singles titles.
She has not gone beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros since losing the 2016 final, the year after capturing the last of her three titles in Paris. Her last major triumph came at the 2017 Australian Open while she was pregnant.
Williams though is not too worried.
“I’m kind of excited to switch surfaces, but historically I have done pretty well on grass,” said Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion.
“I have done pretty well on clay too. Just not this particular season.”
Williams became the eighth top-10 seed in the women’s draw to depart, outmuscled by the Russian-born Rybakina who was appearing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.
“It was definitely close. I’m so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match,” said Williams.
“I’m not winning those points. That like literally could just change everything.”
Despite arriving in Paris with just one win on clay this season, Williams had seen her title hopes boosted by the absence of Simona Halep, and early exits of Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.
Instead, she was knocked out by an opponent who was just two months old when Williams won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September 1999.