Serena Williams was only thinking out loud when she muttered that this Australian Open had been “the worst two weeks,” but not long after a courtside microphone picked up those comments during her quarterfinal with 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens, things got a whole lot worse. Stephens outplayed Williams, whose movement and serves had been slowed by a back injury, and beat the 15-time Grand Slam champion 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
It was Williams’ first loss since Aug. 17, and her first defeat at a Grand Slam tournament since last year’s French Open. Williams’ downer of a Grand Slam Down Under started badly when she turned her right ankle in her opening match at Melbourne Park. “I’ve had a tough two weeks between the ankle … and my back, which started hurting,” Williams said. “A lot of stuff.” She and sister Venus also lost in doubles. Stephens, meanwhile, advances to a semifinal tomorrow against defending champion Victoria Azarenka.