The opening rounds of the French Open have been unforgiving for many of the world’s best players, and Serena Williams was no exception on Saturday.
Williams, the world’s No. 10 women’s tennis player, became the latest high-profile player to be knocked out, as she fell to Sofia Kenin 6-2, 7-5 in the third round. Hours earlier, world No. 1 Naomi Osaka became the fifth top-10 ranked player to lose at Roland Garros.
This is Williams’ earliest exit since her 2014 French Open loss to Garbiñe Muguruza in the second round.
Williams had cruised through her first two matches, only dropping 12 total games and one set, but 35th-ranked Kenin proved to be too much by playing a clean game. Williams had twice as many unforced errors (34-17) and won a lower percentage of service points (55-64).
Kenin, who at 20 is 17 years younger than Williams, was born in Moscow but grew up in Florida and is listed as an American. She is one of many young tennis players who idolized the 23-time Grand Slam title winner she would later knock off.
“I have so much respect for Serena. She’s done so much for tennis, for American tennis,” Kenin said on Friday, via 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.”
Even beyond the Friday upsets of Osaka and Williams, there have been plenty of early exits among the game’s best. World No. 2 Karolina Pliskova lost in straight sets on Friday, and none of No. 4 Kiki Bertens, No. 5 Angelique Kerber nor No. 9 Elina Svitolina made it past the second round.
The only top-10 players left at the French Open are No. 3 Simona Halep, No. 7 Sloane Stephens and No. 8 Ashleigh Barty. World No. 6 Petra Kvitová withdrew from the tournament on Monday due to an arm injury.
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