'Oh my god!' US teen beats Williams
In the biggest tournament upset so far, American teen Sloane Stephens, 19, has beaten the third seed Serena Williams 3-6 7-5 6-4.PT1M9S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2d70m 620 349 January 23, 2013
Serena Williams' grand slam quest is over after the five-times Australian Open champion succumbed to a back injury and the bold challenge of American teenager Sloane Stephens in a Melbourne Park boilover.
Unbeaten in five months, Williams had been gunning for her third successive major and a second "Serena Slam" - a decade after her first - but crashed to a 3-6 7-5 6-4 loss after her back seized up midway through the second set.
Agitated ... Serena Williams smashes her racquet. Photo: AFP
"I was running to the net for a dropshot. As I went to hit it, it was on the backhand. I even screamed on the court. I was like 'Ahh'. I totally locked up after that," Williams said.
Williams refused to directly blame the injury for her demise but admitted contemplating retiring "for a nano second" after requiring treatment late in the second set.
"I mean, it's a quarter-final of a grand slam. Even if I have to take off in a wheeler before I retire," said the reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Olympic champion.
Shock win ... Sloane Stephens has ousted tournament favourite Serena Williams. Photo: AFP
The third seed's usually ferocious serve slowed to around 130kph but, after taking anti-inflammatories, Williams recovered to lead 4-3 with a break in the deciding set only to falter and suffer only her second defeat in her past 42 matches.
After rolling her ankle in the first round and hitting herself in the face with her racquet in round two, the 15-times major winner was heard on court saying this had been "the worst two weeks of my life".
"I've had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big every day, and my back, which started hurting - a lot of stuff," Williams said.
"Oh, my gosh, I'm almost relieved that it's over because there's only so much I felt I could do.
"It's been a little difficult. I've been thrown a lot of balls these two weeks.
"I've actually been injury-free for a while until I got to this tournament, and just fell and had the ankle issues.
"I think that kind of started everything up the chain because I'm compensating and maybe it made my back hurt.
"(But) I think everyone at this stage in the locker room has something wrong with them, so it's fine.
"There’s no excuse there."
Despite her utter dominance since suffering a surprise first-round loss at last year's French Open, Williams remains ranked third in the world behind defending Open champion Victoria Azarenka and Roland Garros winner Maria Sharapova, who remain on course for a repeat of their Melbourne final in 2012.
Her latest defeat has denied Williams the chance to regain the top ranking and become the oldest women's world No.1 in history - but the 31-year-old insisted that didn’t matter.
"I'm trying for grand slams and to win titles, you know, get to 50 titles," she said.
"No.1 is awesome if I get it. Like I said, I think I'll get there one day. If not, I've had it, so it is what it is.
"But, for me, it's definitely more about doing well in tournaments."