Paris - Serena
Williams' 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 No 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.
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 for me."
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 to add 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.
Results from the seventh day of the French Open on Saturday (x denotes seeding):
Novak Djokovic (SRB x1) bt Salvatore Caruso (ITA) 6-3, 6-3, 6-2
Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) bt Borna Coric (CRO x13) 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7/1), 11-9
Fabio Fognini (ITA x9) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x18) 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 4-6, 6-1
Alexander Zverev (GER x5) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB x30) 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 6-2
Dominic Thiem (AUT x4) bt Pablo Cuevas (URU) 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5
Gael Monfils (FRA x14) bt Antoine Hoang (FRA) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3
Karen Khachanov (RUS x10) bt Martin Kližan (SVK) 6-1, 6-4, 6-3
Juan Martín Del Potro (ARG x8) bt Jordan Thompson (AUS) 6-4, 6-4, 6-0
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x6) bt Filip Krajinovic (SRB) 7-5, 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (8/6)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI x24) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (10/8)
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Naomi Osaka (JPN x1) 6-4, 6-2
Madison Keys (USA x14) bt Anna Blinkova (RUS) 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4
Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Serena Williams (USA x10) 6-2, 7-5
Ashleigh Barty (AUS x8) bt Andrea Petkovic (GER) 6-3, 6-1
Simona Halep (ROM x3) bt Lesia Tsurenko (UKR x27) 6-2, 6-1
Iga Swiatek (POL) bt Monica Puig (PUR) 0-6, 6-3, 6-3
Amanda Anisimova (USA) bt Irina Begu (ROU) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4
Aliona Bolsova (ESP) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2, 7-5
French Open women's last 16 line-up (x denotes seeded player):
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) v Madison Keys (USA x14)
Sofia Kenin (USA) v Ashleigh Barty (AUS x8)
Simona Halep (ROM x3) v Iga Swiatek (POL)
Amanda Anisimova (USA) v Aliona Bolsova (ESP)
Sloane Stephens (USA x7) v Garbine Muguruza (ESP x19)
Donna Vekic (CRO x23) v Johanna Konta (GBR x26)
Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) v Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x12)
Kaia Kanepi (EST) v Petra Martic (CRO x31)