SERENA WILLIAMS suffered her first loss since 2012 to a rival outside the WTA’s top 100, falling to fellow American Shelby Rogers in a Friday quarterfinal at the Top Seed Open.
Rogers, ranked 116th, outlasted ninth-ranked Williams 1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) after two hours and seven minutes, finishing the 23-time Grand Slam champion with a service winner.
The US Open hardcourt tuneup event at Lexington, Kentucky, is being staged in a quarantine bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic that had kept Williams idle since a February Fed Cup appearance.
Top seed Williams had not lost to a player outside the top 100 since falling to France’s Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2012 French Open.
Williams, who ousted sister Venus on Thursday, was playing matches to prepare for the US Open, which starts August 31. She will seek a seventh title on the New York hardcourts to match Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam crowns.
Rogers reached her first WTA semifinal since Rio in 2016. She’ll face 63rd-ranked Swiss left-hander Jil Teichmann, who ousted American Catherine Bellis 6-2, 6-4.
The other semifinal will send American Jen Brady — who ousted Czech Marie Bouzkova 6-1, 6-2 — against US teen Coco Gauff, who won 10 of the last 11 games to rally past Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
A rain delay of two hours and 45 minutes postponed her match, but Williams showed no sign the wait had put the 38-year-old mother off her game.
Williams broke for a 2-0 lead by forcing an errant Rogers backhand, broke again in the sixth game when Rogers netted a forehand and held on a service winner to claim the opening set after only 26 minutes.