Serena Williams is out of the French Open after a two-set loss to 21-year-old Elena Rybakina in the fourth round at Roland Garros.
The defeat ends Williams’ quest to add to her 23 Grand Slam titles, after Kazakhstan’s Rybakina earned a classy 6-3, 7-5 win.
Although disappointed to exit the French Open, Williams knows her best chance of adding to her historic Grand Slam total is on faster surfaces later in the year.
“I’m in a much better place than when I got here,” she said.
“You know, just literally trying to win a match, because it had been a really difficult season for me on the clay.
“And although I love the clay, I was, like, if I could just win a match.
“I’m kind of excited to switch surfaces. Historically I have done pretty well on grass.”
Williams’ exit came just hours after Roger Federer withdrew from the tournament.
After earning a hard-fought third-round win over Dominik Koepfer in a four-set contest that ended at 1 a.m., Federer said he needed to recover in time for a tilt at Wimbledon later in the month.
“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of the French Open today,” Federer said in a statement.
“After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.
“I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”
Williams’ exit leaves that half of the women’s draw wide open.
Of the four players remaining in the quarterfinals in Williams’ half of the draw, only Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has been beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam.
Pavlyuchenkova came from behind to score a three-set win over Victoria Azarenka in the Round of 16, and will play Rybakina in the quarters.
The other quarterfinal on that side of the draw will see Tamara Zidansek take on Paola Badosa.
The only top 10 seeds left in the women’s draw are defending champion Iga Swiatek (8) and Sofia Kenin (4).
Swiatek plays Marta Kostyuk in the fourth round, while Kenin takes on 17th seed Maria Sakkari.