Serena Williams’ reign as Olympic singles champion came to a shuddering halt Tuesday as the tennis star suffered a shock defeat by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.
The world number one was beaten 6-4, 6-3 by a player to whom she had never lost in their four previous meetings.
Williams, who had already been knocked out of the doubles tournament along with sister Venus, equaled Steffi Graf’s open era record of 22 grand slams last month by winning Wimbledon.
But while the 34-year-old was favored by many to add 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,” Williams 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.
Williams was not the only big name to be ousted at Rio 2016 as French Open champion, Garbine Muguruza suffered a crushing 6-1, 6-1 defeat by Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig.
Puig, who had never beaten a player in the top five before, eased past the world number four to set up a quarter-final clash with Germany’s Laura Siegemund.
“I consider it the biggest win of my career because it’s at the Olympics,” the 22-year-old player told reporters.
“This happens once every four years. Right now, I’m in the clouds. I can’t even believe it because truly it was incredible.”