French Open shock as powerhouse duo falls
SERENA Williams remains committed to pursuing Margaret Court's grand slam record despite a crushing French Open setback.
Denied 6-2 7-5 by world No 35 Sofia Kenin, Williams admitted she remains well short of fitness and match-play ahead of Wimbledon from July 1.
"I'm just pretty far away, but the optimistic part is I haven't been able to be on the court as much as I would have," Williams said.
"That's okay. At least I can start trying to put the time in now."
Asked if she would be ready for Wimbledon, where an eighth All England Club title would elevate her to parity with Court's long-standing mark of 24 majors, Williams said: "I hope so.
"I'm still working on it and working on getting there. So I think it will be, I think it will be enough time. We'll see, but I definitely hope so.
"I feel like I have had some great runs last year, and, you know, I'm hoping to still build on that this year, and, you know, keep it going."
Williams, 37, hinted she might take a wildcard into a lead-up event to Wimbledon.
"Yeah, I'm definitely feeling short on matches, and just getting in the swing of things," she said.
"I don't really like playing out points when I practice.
"So I have some time on my hands, so maybe I'll jump in and get a wildcard on one of these grass court events and see what happens."
Williams repeatedly praised Kenin post-match.
"I feel like she, in that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven't played anyone like that in a long time," Williams said.
"So, like, yeah, she actually played really well.
"I just saw a player that was playing unbelievable, and that's it. I didn't see anything else."
Meanwhile, No.1 seed Naomi Osaka was also eliminated, losing 6-4, 6-2 to 42nd-ranked Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.
That ended Osaka's 16-match Grand Slam winning streak, which included titles at the US Open final in September - when she beat Williams in the final - and at the Australian Open in January.
Osaka was trying to become the first woman to win three consecutive major trophies since Williams grabbed four in a row in 2014-15.
Like Williams, who dropped eight of the match's first 10 games, Osaka couldn't muster a comeback after falling way behind.
"I just feel like there has been a weight on me, kind of," said Osaka, who was seeded No. 1 at a major tournament for the first time.
She fell behind by a set and a break in every match at Roland Garros.
"I could see," Siniakova said, "that she's not so confident like she was."
Osaka said she felt tired and was dealing with a headache.
Siniakova never had reached the fourth round in singles in 18 previous Slam appearances. She is better known for her doubles success, winning championships at the French Open and Wimbledon last year and topping the rankings.
She is the first woman ranked No. 1 in doubles to defeat the singles No. 1 in more than 30 years, according to the WTA. The last occasion was when Martina Navratilova beat Steffi Graf at the 1987 US Open.
"I mean, it's incredible. It's amazing. It's the thing I couldn't believe," said Siniakova, who will face 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys next. "It was my best tennis."
It decidedly was not Osaka's, who wound up with a hard-to-believe 38 unforced errors; Siniakova made 13.
The first tennis player from Japan to be ranked No. 1 spoke about eyeing a third consecutive major title - and moving halfway to a true Grand Slam.
"It's weird, but I think me losing is probably the best thing that could have happened," the 21-year-old Osaka said. "I think I was overthinking this calendar Slam. For me, this is something that I have wanted to do forever."