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Serena Williams out of French Open

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American Serena Williams remains one Grand Slam short of Margaret Court’s all-time record after being knocked out of the French Open by Elena Rybakina.

Serena Williams of the US shakes hands with Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina
Serena Williams of the US shakes hands with Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina after losing their French Open fourth round match. Photo: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

PARIS – Serena Williams’ latest quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title ended with a 6-3, 7-5 defeat by Kazakh 21st seed Elena Rybakina in the French Open last 16 on Sunday.

The 39-year-old American, still one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of most Grand Slam singles titles, has not gone beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros since losing the 2016 final.

“It was definitely close. I’m so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match,” said Williams.

“I’m not winning those points. That like literally could just change everything.”

Asked whether it could be her last French Open, a smiling Williams gave little away.

“I’m definitely not thinking about it at all,” she said.

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“I’m definitely thinking just about other things but not about that.”

Russian-born Rybakina, 21, extended her best run at a major as she advanced to her first quarter-final, where she will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the last four.

“I am so happy with my match, it was amazing,” said Rybakina, who at 22 is the highest-ranked player left in her half of the draw.

“Of course I was nervous, I was not serving that well in the game before, but I am happy that I managed to control them in the end.”

The exit of Williams leaves just two of the women’s top 10 seeds in the competition, reigning champion Iga Swiatek and last year’s runner-up Sofia Kenin.

It is another missed opportunity for Williams, who despite arriving in Paris with just one win on clay this season, had seen her hopes of a fourth French Open crown boosted by the absence of Simona Halep, and early exits of Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

AFP