LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Serena Williams lost to an opponent ranked outside the top 100 for the first time in eight years Friday, beaten by Shelby Rogers 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the Top Seed Open quarterfinals.
Rogers took six of the last eight points after trailing 3-1 in the tiebreaker. She is No. 116 and picked up only her third career victory over a top-10 opponent.
Rogers also reached her first WTA semifinal since 2016. Need to go even further back in the record books to find this sort of tournament exit for former No. 1 Williams: The owner of 23 Grand Slam singles titles hadn't bowed out against someone so low in the rankings since No. 111 Virginie Razzano stunned her at the 2012 French Open.
Shortly after that, Williams teamed up with coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who still works with her and was among the few people in the stands Friday -- fans are not allowed at the first tennis tournament in the U.S. since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.
This was the third consecutive three-setter for Williams at the hard-court Top Seed Open. She dropped the opening set of each of the others before coming back to beat Bernarda Pera in the first round, then older sister Venus in the second.
On Friday, starting after a rain delay of more than two hours, Williams seemed on the way to a much simpler route to victory. She grabbed the opening set and never faced so much as a single break point until serving while trailing 5-4 in the second.
But that's when things shifted.
Rogers, who is from South Carolina, earned three break points -- each one a set point -- and converted the third when Williams dumped a forehand into the net.
There were no breaks in the third set, and after Williams took the early lead in the tiebreaker, she was her own undoing with miss after miss, including a long backhand return to end it.
With social-distancing rules in place, the players didn't meet at the net for the customary post-match handshake. As they headed to their sideline seats, Williams smiled. Rogers simply sat down and quickly shook a fist.
Now Rogers will face Jil Teichmann in the semifinals Saturday. Teichmann needed seven match points to reach the first hard-court semifinal of her career with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over CiCi Bellis.
Teichmann served for the victory at 5-3 in the second set and was one point from winning a half-dozen times in that game, but couldn't convert, and Bellis eventually broke on her fourth chance.
In the next game, though, Teichmann got a seventh opportunity to end things and Bellis put a forehand into the net.
"That," Teichmann said, "was tough mentally."
The semifinal on the other side of the draw will be Jennifer Brady against 16-year-old Coco Gauff or No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur. Brady advanced by beating Marie Bouzkova 6-1, 6-2.