Serena Williams was upset by unseeded Roberta Vinci in the U.S. Open semi-finals this afternoon, ending her quest for a calendar Grand Slam. Williams, who was looking to become the first player to win all four major singles tournaments in one year since Steffi Graf in 1988, won the first set handily before dropping the next two.
Williams had needed three sets during three of her first five matches during the tournament, but escaped each with a victory. Against Vinci, though, she looked out of sorts at times after dropping the second set. After one particularly dramatic point, Vinci appealed to the crowd for support.
Williams had been 250-7 in Grand Slam matches when winning the first set, and entered today 43-1 against unseeded opponents at the U.S. Open. Williams, who had won the last three U.S. Open singles titles, lost for the first time at Flushing Meadows since 2011, and saw her 33-match Grand Slam winning streak end.
“I think she played the best tennis in her career,” said Williams of Vinci, who will play in her first major singles final. “She’s 33, and she’s going for it at a late age, so that’s good for her to keep going for it, and playing so well. And actually I think I guess it’s inspiring. I think she played literally out of her mind.”
Williams, who told reporters during her post-match press conference that she didn’t want to answer questions about how disappointing the loss was, said she didn’t think she played that badly. “I made more unforced errors than I normally would make, but I think she just played really well. She did not want to lose today, and neither did I, incidentally. But she really didn’t, either.”
Vinci, who after the match called it “the best moment of my life,” apologized to the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium for upsetting the popular American on the verge of history. Said Vinci, still amped up from her shocking victory: “Today’s my day. Sorry, guys.” She’ll face fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta for the title tomorrow afternoon.
This post has been updated throughout.