The chance of a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam again went begging for Serena Williams as she lost to China’s Wang Qiang in the third round of the Australian Open.
Williams, a seven-time champion in Melbourne, went down to Chinese number 27 seed Wang in three sets, 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 7-5 at Rod Laver Arena.
For Williams, who was seeded eighth Down Under, it means she remains stuck on 23 Grand Slam titles and again misses out on the chance to level Australian great Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24.
Williams, 38, last won a Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2017, and has since lost in four consecutive finals – twice at the US Open and twice at Wimbledon.
However, this time round in Melbourne Williams failed to progress beyond the first week, being dumped out by an inspired Wang.
In another stunner, American teenager Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff contiuned to prove she is the real deal as she knocked out defending champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets in the third round of the Australian Open.
Gauff, 15, overcame Osaka 6-3 6-4 as the American youngster claimed yet another big-name scalp as she marched into the second week in Melbourne.
The unseeded Gauff had beaten veteran US great Venus Williams in the first round of this year’s tournament – repeating the feat she achieved at Wimbledon last year – before battling past Sorana Cirstea in the second round in Melbourne.
But greater things were to come against Osaka as Gauff showed maturity beyond her years in springing a major upset at Rod Laver Arena.
It means Gauff will at least match her run to the fourth-round at Wimbledon last season, and will next face China’s Zhang Shaui or American Sofia Kenin in the fourth round.
Unsurprisingly, Gauff has been tipped for big things given her prodigious talent and ability to rise to the occassion when facing bigger names such as two-time Grand Slam winner Osaka.
Such are Gauff’s tender years that she even revealed after the win against Osaka that her teachers were giving her extra leeway with her homework.
“Probably tomorrow [I’ll have to do my homework], because I want to go to sleep tonight,” Gauff said on court.
“My teachers are giving me some time, considering the circmunstances, they’re letting me send some assignments late,” she added, to laughter from the crowd.
Wang next meets Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who knocked out Danish star Caroline Wozniacki in what was her last ever match.