Serena Williams, who won the Olympic singles title in London four years ago, was stunned by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the third round of the Rio Olympics on Tuesday.
Williams was pursuing her fifth gold medal after winning three doubles events with sister Venus in Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012. London was her only triumph in the singles event.
Svitolina shocked the World No. 1 in straight sets (6-4, 6-3) after losing to Williams in their four previous meetings on the WTA tour. “It’s obviously disappointing but, you know, she played really well and I think the better player won today,” said Williams, the winner of 22 grand slam titles.
“I can’t wait for the next time and I know next time it’s going to be a really good match. I’ll look forward to it,” added Williams, after bidding the Rio crowd goodbye.
Svitolina, the world No. 20, lost to Williams (6-1,6-1) in their previous meeting at Roland Garros. Many analysts are the venue were floored by Svitolina’s long rallies which helped her take a 5-3 lead in the second set despite Williams breaking her serve.
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In the end, Williams committed too many unforced errors and allowed the Ukrainian to run away the game. Svitolina will now play Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. Kvitova, a former two-time Wimbledon champion, had previously hyped a potential showdown with Williams.
The loss marks the end of Williams’ Olympic campaign, just two days after the Williams sisters were defeated in straight sets by Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova.
“It didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but at least I was able to make it to Rio. That was one of my goals,” said Williams, who failed to add to her tally of Olympic medals.
Earlier this year, Williams equaled German great Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 grand slams when she won the Wimbledon. The 34-year-old hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.