The tennis star, 37, fell short to Czech player Karolina Plíšková in a dramatic quarterfinal match in Melbourne on Wednesday

By Dave Quinn
January 23, 2019 08:25 AM
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Serena Williams is out of the Australian Open.

The tennis star, 37, fell short to Czech player Karolina Plíšková in a dramatic women’s singles quarterfinal match in Melbourne on Wednesday — crushing her chances at tying Margaret Court’s record 24 Grand Slam singles trophies.

Her loss comes after a tough road for Williams. Though she triumphed at the Australian Open in 2017 — while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia, born in September of that year — she suffered dangerous health complications post-delivery. Since returning to tennis last March after 14 months away from the sport, she’s played in eight tournaments, though has yet to triumph.

Serena Williams
| Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Serena Williams
| Credit: RITCHIE TONGO/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Serena Williams
| Credit: Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Discussing her defeat, Williams remained positive — and hopeful that she’ll still one day hit that record 24th win.

“The big picture for me is always winning,” Williams told reporters in a press conference captured by Australian Open TV. “I’m not going to sit here and lie about that. But it hasn’t happened yet, but I feel like it’s going to happen. Just keep taking it one match at a time, just keep soldiering on, I guess.”

“It’s definitely not easy for me. From day one, I expect to go out and quite frankly, to win. And that hasn’t happened, but I do like my attitude,” she added. “I like that I don’t want to go out here and say, ‘I expect to lose because I had a year off and I’ve been playing for 10 months so I’m not supposed to win.’ I don’t have that attitude. I have the attitude of, ‘Yeah, I’ve only been playing 10 months but I expect to win and if I don’t, it’s disappointing.’ I’d rather think of it that way and know that it’s going to happen sooner than later than making an excuse for myself. I don’t like making excuses.”

As hard as the loss was, Williams still praised Plíšková for playing “lights out” tennis.

“There’s nothing I did wrong on those match points. I didn’t do anything wrong. I stayed aggressive and she just literally hit the lines on some of them,” Williams said. “I can’t say I choked on those match points. She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots. So I don’t really … I can’t really say that it’s incredibly painful.”

“Next time I’m up 5-1 against anybody, whether it’s her or anyone, I just need to make sure I play lights out when I have match points,” she continued to say to reporters. “It’s little things like that, that I used to do, always do, that I need matches to know that. Okay, this is when you go psycho, when you have match point. It’s a good learning experience to know the next time that I have match point, like, ‘Okay, just like go bananas on it.’ ”

Williams also denied claims that rolling her ankle on the first of her four match points in the seventh game of the final set contributed to her loss.

Asked if having a family at home makes the loss easier, Williams said no. “I don’t think it’s any easier,” she said. “I don’t really take losses well.”

Meanwhile, Plíšková, 26, now moves into the Australian Open semifinal for the first time in her career. She’ll face off against reigning U.S. champion Naomi Osaka, 21, in next match.