Serena Williams suffered a shock second-round defeat at the Auckland Classic on Wednesday following her sister Venus’s earlier withdrawal with an arm injury.
By Carlo Chikomba
Top-seeded women’s tennis star Serena Williams laid the blame on the wind after a string of unforced errors culminated in her 6-4, 6-7 (7/3), 6-4 loss in a match with world number 72 Madison Brengle.
The American was sent packing in what was her first event after a four-month layoff due to an injury dating back to September last year.
“I’m trying to think of a word that’s not obscene but that’s pretty much how I played,” Serena told reporters.
“I just couldn’t get used to the wind. My opponent played in the exact same conditions so obviously she was used to it and her game was more suited to it but it was just really annoying me for whatever reason.”
On the other end, her second-seeded sister Venus was forced to quit after suffering a sore right arm during her struggle to a 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 first-round victory over 18-year-old New Zealander Jade Lewis playing in her first WTA tournament.
The tennis powerhouse Serena, was looking to put up a strong showing in Auckland, as preparation for the Australian Open and also to celebrate her New Year engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
The 35 year-old had won her first-round encounter with Pauline Parmentier on Tuesday albeit unconvincingly as she blamed lack of proper game time during her 4 month lay-off for the sluggish display. This time however she succumbed in spectacular fashion with a double fault on match point at 4-5 in the third set in the blustery conditions.
“I didn’t hit any returns in the vicinity of the court,” lamented Serena. “I’ve never returned like that in my life — a little frustrating especially since I worked so hard in the offseason.
“I can take solace from the fact conditions won’t be like this in Melbourne.”
Brengle will now meet seventh seed Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals while Venus’s withdrawal has gifted Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka a spot in the final eight where she will play eighth-seed Croatian Ana Konjuh.