London: Five-time champion Venus Williams
suffered a shock 6-2, 6-3 defeat against unseeded Bulgarian
Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon on Tuesday.
Not since Jelena Jankovic defeated Williams in the third
round in 2006 had Venus failed to reach the women`s singles
final here, but the American second seed was completely
out-played by Pironkova, the world number 82, in the most
remarkable result of this year`s Championships.
Venus had competed in eight of the last 10 Wimbledon
finals and had been odds-on to make yet another appearance in
the showpiece after moving through the first four rounds
without dropping a set.
Yet there had been signs against Jarmila Groth in the
fourth round that Venus was not at the top of her game as the
Australian pushed her to a tie-break in their fourth round
But even so Venus has been the queen of Wimbledon for so
long that this ranks as a truely stunning upset.
Pironkova, the daughter of a former canoe champion, is
the lowest ranked woman left in the draw and has never won a
title on the main WTA tour. She can look forward to a
semi-final showdown with Kim Clijsters or Vera Zvonareva.
Although Pironkova is ranked 81 places below Venus, the
Bulgarian had no reason to believe she couldn`t shock the
world number two because she had already upset her in the
first round of the Australian Open four years ago.
That stunning victory in Melbourne in their last meeting
was by far the best result of Pironkova`s career.
The 22-year-old from Plovdiv, who defeated former
Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli in the last round, had never
even been past the second round of a grand slam in 18 previous
attempts until her run here this year.
Playing for a place in the semi-finals of a grand slam
could have been completely overwhelming for Pironkova. But she
showed no signs of stage-fright on Court One.
Venus, who last won Wimbledon in 2008, has always relied
on bullying opponents into submission with her huge serve and
booming backhands, but Pironkova`s quick court coverage and
clever use of the angles kept the American from finding her
The tactic of moving Williams around the court paid off
handsomely in the sixth game of the first set as Pironkova
broke for a 4-2 lead.
With her ground-strokes way off target, Venus was unable
to halt Pironkova`s momentum and the Bulgarian number one took
the set when she converted her fourth break point in the
eighth game with a perfect passing shot.
Venus had to fight off another break point in the second
game of the second set and, even when she seemed to regain a
measure of control by breaking for 2-1 lead, Pironkova just
kept on coming at her.
When a sublime lob from Pironkova brought up a break
point in the next game, Williams` frustration was clear to
She looked rattled and there was an air of desperation
about her when she drove a wild forehand into the net to allow
Pironkova to break back.
Even though her power-game wasn`t working, Venus made no
attempt to change statergy.
Pironkova was playing the tennis of her life and all
Venus could do was crudely blasted a backhand long to give the
Bulgarian the decisive break for a 4-2 lead.
Pironkova didn`t falter when she had a chance to serve
for the match and, after Williams missed a volley, the
Bulgarian fell to the turf in sheer delight.