Serena Williams Out of Aus Open After Suspect Foot Fault Call

Serena Williams has been knocked out of the 2019 Australian Open.

3 min read
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, left, is congratulated by United States’ Serena Williams after winning their quarter-final match at the Australian Open.
  • Serena Williams loses Australian Open quarter-final to Karolina Pliskova despite holding match points.
  • Pliskova, the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, won the match 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
  • She next plays 2018 US Open Champion Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.

Serena Williams was one point — just one — from quite a comeback victory in the Australian Open quarter-finals when she was called out for a foot fault and then turned her left ankle.

Everything unraveled from there.

In a startling reversal and result, Williams wasted four match points along the way to dropping the last six games of a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 loss to No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

"I was almost in the locker room," said Pliskova, who trailed 5-1 in the third set, "but now I'm standing here as the winner."

For Serena, this defeat is the earliest in Australia for her since a fourth-round loss to Ana Ivanovic in 2014. Since then, she had won the tournament in 2015, lost in the final in 2016, and won again in 2017 while pregnant, before missing last year's edition a few months after the birth of her daughter.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic celebrates after defeating United States’ Serena Williams in their quarter-final match at the Australian Open.
Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic celebrates after defeating United States’ Serena Williams in their quarter-final match at the Australian Open.
(Photo: AP)

So instead of Williams moving closer to an eighth championship at the Australian Open and record-tying 24th Grand Slam title overall, it is Pliskova who will continue her pursuit of her first major trophy.

In the semi-finals, Pliskova will face No. 4-seeded Naomi Osaka, who advanced by beating No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1 earlier Wednesday.

Williams' surprising loss scuttled a much-anticipated rematch after her loss to Osaka in the chaotic U.S. Open final last September.

The 37-year-old American's match against Pliskova was played under a stifling sun, with the temperature around 80 degrees (25 Celsius), and Williams often stepped into the patches of shade behind each baseline. She did not start well, not well at all, and her mistakes were mounting and deficit was growing.

Only after trailing by a set and a break at 3-2 in the second did Williams seem to get going. From there, she immediately earned her first break point of the match and converted it to get to 3-all, beginning a run in which she claimed nine of 11 games.

That seemed to put her in control. And then it all changed.

Serving for the victory at 5-1, 40-30, Williams was called for a foot fault — reminiscent of an infamous such call at the U.S. Open a decade ago. During the ensuing point Wednesday, Williams twisted her left ankle and dumped a forehand into the net.

She grabbed at her foot right afterward, and would go on to cede that game.

Not a big deal, right? She still had a sizable lead.

Except three more match points would follow, and Pliskova staved off each one.

Williams would again serve for the match at 5-3 — and again get broken. The owner of the most feared and respected serve in women's tennis was broken for a third time in a row at 5-all, and Pliskova was on her way.

"She got a little bit shaky in the end," Pliskova said. "So I took my chances. And I won

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