In a surprising upset, Serena Williams lost to Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open Thursday night for the second year in a row.
Williams lost to the No. 10 seed Pliskova 6-2, 7-6 (5). With this loss, Williams also loses her ranking as No. 1 in the WTA. She’s held on to the spot for three and half years but will now be bumped down to No. 2, ceding the top to Angelique Kerber.
Last year, Williams lost in a devastating upset to the unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci in the semifinals. The loss was intensified by media scrutiny, the pressure for a historic Grand Slam and a harrowing match in which she beat her sister Venus. and . This year, the Grand Slam was not in the cards for Williams, as she lost at both the French and Australian Open earlier this year.
Despite Williams being the clear crowd favorite, Pliskova played very well. As per the New York Times, she “won the first set in 26 minutes and did not crumble even when Williams screamed in her face at net.” While this is a detail that feels unnecessary – don’t all tennis players scream? – good on Pliskova for keeping her shit together and securing the win.
In an interview immediately following her win, she expressed surprise and an awful lot of confidence. “I don’t believe it,” she said. “Actually, I do believe it. I always knew I had a chance to beat anybody when I am playing my game.”