Stephens sends Serena home
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Serena Williams is out of the Australian Open after losing her quarterfinal match 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens.
Williams appeared to hurt her lower back while attempting to pull up short of the net during the eighth game of the second set. She called for a trainer after the ninth game with the score 5-4 and on serve.
Stephens won the second set when Williams, serving slower than usual, was broken. Williams also had her service broken in the final game of the match.
At 2-1 and on the way to a changeover in the third set, Williams smashed her racket angrily on the court then threw it toward her chair.
Stephens will play defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.
Azarenka overcame some early jitters to beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 6-1 on Wednesday.
After dropping serve in a long fourth game which went to deuce 10 times, Azarenka recovered to dominate the rest of the match against Kuznetsova, a two-time major winner who was floating dangerously in the draw with a No. 75 ranking as she recovers from a knee injury.
Williams had lost only one match since a first-round exit at the French Open in a streak that included back-to-back major titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open as well as the Olympic gold medal and season-sending WTA Championship.
Azarenka's American rapper friend, Redfoo, returned from a concert in Malaysia to attend Wednesday's quarterfinal match.
Of her game, Azarenka added, "I'm just glad I could produce my good tennis when it was needed."