Serena Williams saw the defence of her Wimbledon
title come to an end with a shock straight-sets defeat by Marion
Bartoli of France in the last 16.
Bartoli raised her arms with joy after winning 6-3 7-6 (8-6) to set up a quarter-final against Sabine Lisicki.
Serena, who recently returned from a year out with injury and illness, will now drop to 180th in the rankings.
The 13-time Grand Slam winner becomes the fourth defending champion in the Open Era to fall before the last eight.
If anyone harboured doubts about Bartoli’s readiness for the
task at hand, they need only have witnessed the intensity with which she
treated the pre-match knock-up.
She was hitting the ball with power, depth and placement –
and that continued when play began as she held serve comfortably in
games one, three and five.
Recently back from almost a year out with injury and illness,
Williams was moving reasonably well in the early stages but her
groundstrokes began to falter as Bartoli upped the intensity.
The seventh seed fired long to give her opponent 15-40 in
game six and, despite scrambling brilliantly to save the first break
point, again went long to hand over the initiative.
Bartoli followed it up with a hold to love and almost wrapped
up the set soon after, only for Williams to save three set points
before holding for 3-5 with an ace down the middle.
That meant Bartoli would have to serve out the set and she
came close to making a mess of it as a double fault gave Williams the
first of three break-back points.
But she refused to roll over and eventually – and deservedly –
came through on her fifth set point with an thunderous ace down the
Bartoli let out a huge cry of “Allez!” and raised her fist in
the direction of her father and coach Walter, who she banished from the
stands during her epic third-round victory over Flavia Pennetta.