Seven-times champion Serena Williams suffered a dramatic exit from the Australian Open on Friday, her earliest in 14 years, falling 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang in a stunning third round upset that tore the women’s tournament open.
Wang, who was thrashed 6-1 6-0 by Serena in the U.S Open quarter-finals, savoured sweet revenge on Rod Laver Arena to end the American’s bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, sending shockwaves through Melbourne Park.
A day before the Chinese New Year, 27th seed Wang wavered when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was magnificent under pressure in the decider.
She broke Serena Williams’s formidable serve to seal the thriller on the third match point when the American dumped a backhand into the net.
It was Serena's earliest exit from first Grand Slam since 2006, when her title defence was ended by Daniela Hantuchova.
“I think my team always believe I can do it,” Wang said on-court.
“After last (I played Serena), I did really hard work on the court and off the court, it’s really good work and I believed I could do it.
“During the second set I was a little bit confused but in my mind I knew I had to focus on the court, focus on every point.”