Melbourne, Australia – Serena Williams' bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title has been falling short with losses in finals. At this Australian Open, she didn't make it nearly that far.
Serving only so-so, failing to convert all but one of her break chances and missing groundstrokes with alarming regularity, Williams stunningly exited in the third round at Melbourne Park, beaten 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5 by 27th-seeded Wang Qiang of China on Friday.
The 38-year-old Williams credited Wang but eventually shifted to criticizing herself for not playing well enough to win.
"I didn't return like Serena. Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, I lost that match," Williams said. "I can't play like that. I literally can't do that again. It's unprofessional. It's not cool."
Williams owns seven trophies from the year's first major championship, and this was her earliest defeat since also bowing out in the third round in 2006. She has been stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles since winning the 2017 Australian Open.
The only other time these two women faced each other came at the U.S. Open last September, and Williams won 6-1, 6-0.
The first woman to reach the fourth round was top-ranked Aussie Ash Barty, who beat 29th-seeded Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-2.
Overnight, defending champion Naomi Osaka was scheduled to play 15-year-old American Coco Gauff.
All of the top 10 seeded women reached the third round at the Australian Open for the first time since 2007.
End of a career
Caroline Wozniacki's farewell tour at the Australian Open is over. The 2018 champion lost her third-round match 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 to Ons Jabeur at Melbourne Arena.
Wozniacki said late last year that she would retire from the game after the Australian Open in order to spend more time with her family and because she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2018.
The former world No. 1 sat in her courtside chair wiping tears from her eyes before doing an on-court television interview.