WIMBLEDON, England – In a Wimbledon full of upsets, even American Serena Williams was not safe.
Only a few upsets could rival the first-round exit of Rafael Nadal and the second-round ouster of Roger Federer, but Sabine Lisicki of Germany beat the seemingly unbeatable, sending the top-ranked Williams out Monday in the fourth round 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
Fresh off dominating the French Open, Williams had won 34 consecutive matches for the longest streak in women’s tennis since 2000. But the 23rd-seeded Lisicki had an impressive streak of her own. In her last four Wimbledons, Lisicki had defeated a reigning French Open champion.
“I’m so happy,” Lisicki, 23, said, breaking into tears in her BBC interview after the match.
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She added: “I was fighting for every single point and hanging in there. It’s unbelievable.”
Williams knew Lisicki would challenge her, and when she was asked Saturday about facing Williams, Lisicki said: “Everybody’s human being. You know, when I play, we’ll see what happens.”
In the first four games of the match, it was clear this match would be different for five-time Wimbledon champion Williams than her first three.
Her second service game went to six deuces.
In a match full of momentum swings, there were three straight breaks of serve in the final set. In the eighth game, serving at 3-4, Lisicki fell behind 0-40 but rallied with impeccable groundstrokes and a timely ace to finally hold serve.
Lisicki won the next two games to close out the match, keeping Williams off balance with big serves out wide and chasing down virtually everything Williams sent back at her.
“Didn’t play the big points good enough,” 16-time major champion Williams said. “I didn’t do what I do best.”
After hitting a forehand winner on her second match point, Lisicki fell on her stomach and was on the court for several seconds to take it in.
“She was just on today,” Williams said. “She is always on against big players and on big courts.”
Lisicki had a 10-7 edge in aces, a 35-25 advantage in winners and broke Williams five times. Lisicki is 17-4 at Wimbledon.
“Come on, guys, let’s get with it. She’s excellent,” Williams said at a news conference. “She’s not a pushover.”
Nothing at this tournament, it seems, will unfold as expected. What’s next? Deep-fried Twinkies replacing strawberries and cream at the concession stands?
“This is the most unusual major I’ve been a part of in the last 20 years,” said Mary Joe Fernandez, a television analyst and former U.S. champion.
Sloane Stephens, 20, is the lone American singles player remaining in the tournament. She also had that status at the Australian Open in January after beating Williams in the quarterfinals.
Stephens, seeded 17th, beat 19-year-old Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to advance to her first Wimbledon quarterfinal. She won eight of the last nine games.
Stephens has rebounded from a four-match losing streak in the spring.
“I’m top 20 in the world for a reason,” she said. “I didn’t, like, all of a sudden snap my fingers and I got good. I put in a lot of work, took a lot of sweat, bad-hair days, all that other stuff, to get to where I was. I realized that I just couldn’t let that go to waste.”
In the men’s bracket, top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia beat No. 13 Tommy Haas of Germany 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) to advance to his 17th straight quarterfinal in a major.
Second-seeded Andy Murray of Britain beat No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.