Sloane Stephens, a 19-year-old American, upset Serena Williams at the Australian Open in the quarterfinals 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. This was the first time Williams has ever lost to a younger American.
Williams had only lost one match since last year’s French Open. She was two major victories away from a “Serena Slam”–holding all four major titles at once.
Stephens will face Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion and top-ranked player in the world, in the semifinals tomorrow. Azarenka is the No. 1 seed. Williams was the third seed. Stephens is the 29th seed, but a player many in the tennis world believe will be a top-5 player in the world in the future.
When asked how she would prepare for Azarenka, Stephens replied she would just “do the same thing I’ve been doing” and emphasized the key was “to have fun” on the court.
Stephens checked her phone immediately after the win and said she received 145 text messages. The exuberant teenager said she hoped to get “a lot more Twitter followers” on her (@SloaneTweets) Twitter account. As soon as she won the match, Stephens had around 30,000 followers.
In the second set, Williams injured her back. She was visibly in pain and had trouble serving, but seemed to find her game again in the third set.
“I even screamed on the court,” Williams said at a press conference after the match. “I totally locked up after that.”
Williams said she had trouble “rotating” after the injury. She smashed a racket in frustration at one point during the match.
When asked if she had considered retiring, Williams first thought the reporter asked her if she had plans to retire from the game.
When the reporter clarified that he was asking if Williams considered retiring from the match against Stephens, she laughed at the initial misunderstanding and said she would have to be taken off the court “in a wheeler” before she would ever retire from a match due to an injury.