Venus Williams was in control, or so it seemed. She led in each set of her match Wednesday against Germany’s Angelique Kerber. But Williams did not close, and, instead, was closed out, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).
Williams was classy in defeat, giving credit to Kerber and not use fatigue from playing twice a day as an excuse.
“I made a few errors and she hit a few winners, and things can go quickly in tennis,” Williams said. ” “She had a lot of answers. She’s having a great year, and I have to give her credit for playing well.”
Three times in the first set Williams had a chance to take it. But she did not. Then, in the tiebreaker, she had a 5-1 lead and blew that, too.
In the second set, Williams raced out to a 3-1 lead in the set. But again she floundered and Kerber rallied for the comeback and, ultimately, the victory.
In the first set Williams failed to convert three set points, then blew a 5-1 lead in the tiebreaker. She was up 3-1 in the second set, but Kerber again charged back.
Kerber, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last month and at the U.S. Open last year, is ranked a career-high No. 7. Knocking off Williams advances her to the quarterfinals against top-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Wiliams suffers from an autoimmune disease that saps her energy. She has been playing through it, which was a challenge because she was playing singles and doubles with her sister, Serena, in the same day. The loss leaves her at three Olympic gold medals. She and Serena, who has not won a singles title in Olympic competition, continue their quest for doubles gold on Thursday.
She marched on easily before her sister’s defeat, rocketing 12 in a 6-1, 6-0 domination of Vera Zvonareva of Russia in just 51 minutes.
“I was just playing unbelievable,” Williams said. “I was nervous going into the match and I didn’t speak to anyone and I had a bad practice. I had no idea I would play like this.”