Williams fell 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 to No. 27 Wang Qiang in the third round of the Australian Open, while Gauff beat defending champion No. 3 Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the Round of 16.
The loss for Williams was the earliest she’s suffered at the tournament in 14 years, as she had 56 unforced errors. During last year’s U.S. Open, Williams beat Wang 6-1, 6-0 in 44 minutes. That was not the case this time, as the match lasted two-hours and 41-minutes, making it the longest contest Williams has been a part of since becoming a mother.
“I’m way too old to play like this at this stage of my career. Definitely going to be training tomorrow, that’s first and foremost — to make sure I don’t do this again,” said Williams.
“I definitely do believe [I can win another Grand Slam] or I wouldn’t be on tour. I don’t play just to have fun and to lose is really not fun to play to lose, personally. I seem to do well at the last two slams of the year,” she explained. “I’ve won them all several times so each one definitely is an opportunity for me to go out there and win. It’s not even about the slams. It’s about just me playing good tennis, and I didn’t do that today. And that is more disappointing. So it’s not even about the win. It’s just more about I’m better than that.”
“[Wang] served well. I didn’t return like Serena. Honestly, if we were just honest with ourselves, it’s all on my shoulders. I lost that match, so it is what it is. Like I said, it’s not about the tournament. It’s just like, I can’t play like that. I literally can’t do that again. That’s unprofessional, and it’s not cool.”
For Gauff, the full attention of the tennis world is now on the 15-year-old to see if she can capture the title. During last year’s U.S. Open Osaka blasted Gauff 6-3, 6-0, which is why the win is such a big deal for the teenager, as Osaka made 30 unforced errors compared to Gauff’s 17.
This time around, the 15-year-old phenom shocked and embarrassed Naomi. You could tell by Osaka’s demeanor during her presser.
“It’s just tough,” Osaka said. “You just don’t want to lose to a 15-year-old, you know?”