Twelve months ago at the semifinals of the US Open, Serena Williams was shocked. History has repeated itself, with the American losing to Karolina Pliskova to crash out of the competition.
The 24-year-old Czech tennis star beat the 34-year-old Williams 6-2, 7-6 to make it to the finals of the Open.
“America probably hates me because I beat Venus and Serena,” Pliskova said after the match.
Pliskova became only the fourth singles player to beat both Serena and Venus Williams in the same Grand Slam event.
Williams, who double-faulted on match point, said her left knee, which she thought was injured during a second-round match, was a factor.
“I’m not going to sit here and make an excuse,” she said.
She vigorously disputed the idea she was tired after playing her quarterfinal match Wednesday.
“My mind was just a little bit everywhere, but it was what it was,” Williams said. “Yeah, serious left knee problems. But fatigue had nothing to do with it. If I was tired, I need to find a new career.
“I definitely was not beat up after my quarterfinal match.”
Pliskova’s performance belied her experience. She was playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, while it was Williams’ 33rd.
“I had a goal today, to beat Serena,” Pliskova said in her on-court interview. “And that’s what I did.
“I don’t believe it. Actually, I do believe it. I knew I could beat anyone if I’m playing my game.”
The No. 1 ranking, which Serena has held for 186 consecutive weeks, will now go to Angelique Kerber when the new rankings are released Monday.