Home News Serena Williams Unab...

Serena Williams Unable To Defend Olympic Title, Loses In Third Round

By Karen Rosen | Aug. 09, 2016, 9:13 p.m. (ET)

Serena Williams reacts during her women's singles third round match against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Tennis Centre on Aug. 9, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO – Usually when Serena Williams screams after winning a point, look out.

Those screams mean she's about to turn her game up a notch.

But in the third round of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Williams, the defending champion and top seed, couldn't yell her way to a win.

Elina Svitolina, the 15th seed from Ukraine, defeated Williams 6-4, 6-3 in 72 minutes Tuesday.

“Obviously, I'm disappointed, but she played really well,” said Williams, whose voice was raspy after the match. “And I think the better player today won. But I can't wait for next time and I know next time it's going to be a really good match and I look forward to it.”

On July 24, Williams withdrew from a tournament in Montreal because of inflammation in her shoulder.

She was coming off her seventh career Wimbledon title, which tied her with Steffi Graf for most Grand Slams at 22.

Download the Team USA app today for breaking news, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team bios, videos and more.

Svitolina, who was 0-4 against Williams coming into the match, said she could sense Williams was injured.

“Yeah, I got the feeling,” she said. “but I was trying to stop thinking about it, just stay in the moment. Just play the ball, don't play against Serena Williams, who is Olympic champion and (winner of) so many other Grand Slams. Just go for it and look for the ball.”

Svitolina was sharp, often catching Williams flat-footed. The Ukrainian committed just 15 unforced errors compared to 35 for Williams.

The 21-year-old from Odessa led 3-1 in the second set when Williams fought back to tie it at 3-3. After double-faulting twice, Williams hit a big winner and let out a big scream.

But she double-faulted again, hitting her racket on the court twice in frustration. Williams won the next point for deuce, then double-faulted a fourth time, looking forlorn and defeated.

With her fifth double-fault, Svitolina won the game, and closed out the set. On her final serve, with yet another double fault, Williams opened her arms as if to gesture, “What can I do?”

Like Graf in 1988, Williams captured the Golden Slam in 2012 by winning the Olympic singles title to go along with titles in the four Grand Slams – the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Williams also has won three Olympic gold medals in doubles, playing with her sister Venus. The duo lost in the first round in Rio, while Venus also lost in singles in her opening match.

Serena said playing in Rio was “a great opportunity. It didn't work out the way I wanted it to, but at least I was able to make it to Rio. That was one of my goals.”

Playing with Venus, the 2000 Olympic singles champion, in another Olympic Games, was “awesome,” Serena said. “It was fun.”

She laughed ruefully.

“It's over now.”

Related Athletes

head shot

Serena Williams