Serena Williams had been on an absolute tear over the last eight months, losing one match and not dropping a set since the U.S. Open final. So you can imagine her frustration when she finally lost her first set of the tournament at the Australian Open and suffered just her second loss since the French Open, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals.
Williams, who looked well on her way to a straight-set win after taking the first set in 28 minutes, suffered a back spasm in the second set, giving her 19-year-old compatriot an opportunity. Stephens wobbled but got the job done. She’ll face No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals on Thursday.
Panicked and frustrated, Williams let it out on her poor Wilson racket after Stephens held easily to 2-1 in the third set. It was a classic, “two swats and a toss.” Fine form, if you ask me.
“Did you see it?” Williams asked after the match. “I even had a wry smile on my lips after that. It made me happy, unfortunately.”