Venus Williams ousted in 2nd round of US Open

Two-time champion Venus Williams said she felt American for the

first time at a U.S. Open as the crowd urged her Thursday in her

6-2, 5-7, 7-5 loss to sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber.

Williams served poorly and stumbled badly for a set and a half

before recovering to make things quite competitive. Williams came

within two points of winning, but dropped five of the last six

games.

Buoyed by chants of ”Let’s go, Venus!” in a mostly empty

Arthur Ashe Stadium – perhaps spectators figured in the second set

that Kerber was on her way to a swift victory – Williams found the

resolve and energy to put aside her 16 double-faults and 60 total

unforced errors and get back into the contest.

”I know this is not proper tennis etiquette, but this is the

first time I’ve ever played here that the crowd has been behind me

like that. Today I felt American for the first time at the U.S.

Open,” Williams said. ”So I’ve waited my whole career to have

this moment and here it is.”

Asked after the match if she’s ready to join Andy Roddick in

retirement, Williams replied: ”No, because if I could have made

two more shots, I probably could have won that match. There’s a big

difference for me because I’m beating myself. I’m not getting

destroyed out there. … If I was out there and people were killing

me, maybe it’s time to hang it up.”

A year ago at the U.S. Open, Williams didn’t get the chance to

play at all in the second round, withdrawing hours before the match

and announcing she had Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease

that can cause fatigue.

While the 32-year-old Williams never has uttered a word

indicating she’s thinking about leaving the sport, she is no longer

the player she once was.

”Being on the losing end of a match like this isn’t a lot of

fun,” Williams said. ”Today all I had was fight, because I didn’t

play well.”

In addition to her 2000 and 2001 trophies from the U.S. Open,

and five titles from Wimbledon, Williams was the runner-up at major

tournaments seven times. In 16 years of Grand Slam action, since

her debut in 1997, Williams had never gone through an entire season

without making at least one fourth-round appearance at a major.

Until 2012, when she never even made the third round once. She

missed the Australian Open while still working her way back onto

the tour, then lost in the second round at the French Open and the

first round at Wimbledon.

Williams took quite a while to get going against Kerber, who was

a semifinalist in New York last year. Williams was broken each of

the first five times she served and nine times overall.

”It’s been a long time; I usually don’t have that many

breaks,” Williams said.

She only hit one ace, more than 1 1/2 hours into the match, in

her 10th service game of the evening.

Then, after Williams led 4-2 in the third set, and was two

points away from victory while leading 5-4 as Kerber served, it all

came apart again for the American.