‘What the hell?’: Star fumes at Serena
Serena Williams's bid to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title was thwarted again on Saturday when she was knocked out of the French Open 6-2, 7-5 by US compatriot Sofia Kenin in the third round.
It was 37-year-old Serena's earliest exit at the Slams since a third round loss to Alize Cornet at Wimbledon in 2014.
Kenin, the 20-year-old world number 35, will face eighth seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia for a place in the quarter-finals. Three-time Roland Garros champion Williams was attempting to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 majors.
"She played really well, especially in the first set where she hit pretty much within an inch of the line all the time," said Williams.
But behind the scenes, the fire was only just starting.
Williams drew the ire of men's star Dominic Thiem after booting him out of his own press conference. Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg said it was because "she didn't want to wait for him to finish" as media swamped the veteran after her loss.
Thiem was fuming at the ordeal and left the media rooms completely in protest, refusing to take more questions.
"I don't really get it, seriously. I mean, what the hell? No, but it's a joke, really...I have to leave the room because she's coming?" Thiem said.
"I leave also then. I'm not standing around. I can also do what I want."
The America veteran, who played just one clay court match in Rome before suffering a knee injury in the run up to the French Open, said she had expected to progress further in Paris.
"I would have expected to have gotten past the third round. If someone said I would only get this far, I'd have said they were a liar.
"But it is what it is." "I haven't been on the court as much as I would have wanted to and it's been a gruelling season forme." Kenin wasn't even born when Williams made her Paris debut in 1998. "There's a lot of emotions now," said the Russian-born player. "Serena is such a great champion and I have all the respect for her. I had to fight for every point." Williams, who has still toadd to her majors collection since she returned to the tour after giving birth to her daughter, fired 30 winners and 34 unforced errors.
Kenin committed only half as many.
Kenin broke twice in the first set, celebrating every mini-triumph with a 'c'mon'.
She went 3-1 ahead in the second set before Williams, the 2002, 2013 and 2015 champion, clawed her way back to 3-3.
But Kenin grabbed what proved to be the crucial break in the 11th game and held her nerve to take victory on a second match point when Williams fired a backhand long.
- with AAP