Serena Williams’ reign came to an abrupt end after she suffered a shock defeat by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina during the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The world No. 1 was beaten 6-4 6-3 by a player to whom she had never lost to previously.
Serena, who had already been knocked out of the doubles tournament, equaled Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 grand slams last month by winning Wimbledon.
While the 34-year-old was favored by many to add to a second Olympic singles title, she was unable to find a way past a determined opponent. “It’s obviously disappointing but, you know, she played really well and I think the better player won today,” Serena said.
“I can’t wait for the next time and I know next time, it’s going to be a really good match. I’ll look forward to it.
“It didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but at least I was able to make it to Rio. That was one of my goals.”
Svitolina, ranked 20th in the world, was beaten 6-1 6-1 by Williams in their last meeting, on clay, at the French Open in June.
But she showed little sign of being strained on this occasion, unleashing a number of impressive ground strokes on the Rio hard courts to leave Williams in trouble.
Williams missed last month’s Rogers Cup in Canada with an inflammation of the shoulder, and she looked uncomfortable throughout the second set.
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Trailing 0-40 at 3-5, Williams saved the first two match points as the pressure began to build.
Svitolina will next play two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. The Czech reached the quarterfinals by beating Ekaterina Makarova of Russia.