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Serena Williams takes positives from shock French Open exit after defeat to Elena Rybakina

Williams was chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam (Picture: Getty)

Serena Williams has crashed out of the French Open after a shock defeat to 21st seed Elena Rybakina at the last 16 stage.

Three-time champion Williams had been bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title but her wait to equal Margaret Court’s record haul continues after a 6-3 7-5 defeat on Sunday evening.

Williams had won just one match on clay heading into Roland Garros but was relieved to get some victories under her belt ahead of her Wimbledon campaign later this month.

‘I’m in a much better place than when I got here,’ Williams said.

‘Just literally trying to win a match, because it had been a really difficult season for me on the clay. And although I love the clay, I was, like, ‘If I could just win a match’.

Elena Rybakina

Elena Rybakina into the last eight (Picture: Getty)

‘I’m kind of excited to switch surfaces, but historically I have done pretty well on grass.

‘I have done pretty well on clay too. Just not this particular season. I don’t know. I don’t think I’m going to play a warm-up.’

The 39-year-old has not won a Grand Slam since her Australian Open triumph in 2017.

Rybakina meanwhile will meet No.31 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last eight.

‘I’m so happy with the match today,’ she said. ‘It’s difficult to expect anything, because you watch on TV and that’s completely different when you come on court and you feel the power and everything.

‘I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return,” reflected Rybakina, who blocked out the aura of facing Williams that so many succumb to.

‘She’s powerful, but I was ready. Then after few points I felt it comfortable, so nothing.’


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