Serena Williams branded herself an unprofessional as her hope for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open ended with a shock defeat.
Chinese No. 1, Qiang Wang defeated the 38-year-old mother of one with 6-4 6-7 7-5 in the third round.
Williams made 56 unforced errors compared to 20 for her opponent as she made her earliest exit from the Australian Open in 14 years.
Speaking after the match, the American tennis legend said, “I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today. If we were just honest with ourselves, it’s all on my shoulders. I lost that match. 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. It’s not cool.”
Williams also admitted that she thought she would win by the end of second round.
“I was optimistic I would be able to win. I thought, ‘OK now finish this off’. I honestly didn’t think I was going to lose that match.”
“I am just a better actress. I’m no happier than I was 10 years ago. But I just have to pretend I don’t want to punch the wall, but in reality I do.” Williams added when asked if defeats still sting as badly as they used to now she has so many other things in her life.
This is her earliest defeat at the Grand Slam since 2006 and has added fuel to the speculations that her 24th title will never come to reality.
But Williams still holds hope high that she will win the title someday having reached the final at both events in 2018 and 2019.
“I definitely do believe or I wouldn’t be on tour,” she added. “I don’t play just to have fun. To lose is really not fun. I seem to do well the last two Slams of the year. I have won them all several times. Each one is definitely an opportunity for me to go out there and win.”
Meanwhile, Wang expressed her happiness in making the biggest win of her career.
I’m really happy now,” she said. “I always believed I can do this one day. I didn’t know which day, but it’s coming today. I did really hard work in the off-season, so it paid off.”
Wang was coached for four years by Australian former doubles great Peter McNamara, who died from cancer last summer.