Serena Williams loses to Alize Cornet at Wimbledon

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Williams knocked out of Wimbledon

Five-time champion Serena Williams suffered her earliest Wimbledon defeat since 2005 as she lost to France's Alize Cornet in the third round.

Cornet, ranked 24th, won 1-6 6-3 6-4 on Court One to claim her second victory of the year over the world number one.

Alize Cornet
Cornet has only reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam once before, in Australia five years ago

It is only the third time in 15 visits to Wimbledon that Williams has lost so early. She has not been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam in 2014.

Cornet, 24, had never before beaten a top-20 player at a Grand Slam.

"I just cannot believe it," she told BBC Sport. "Three years ago I couldn't play on grass, I was so bad, but now I have beaten Serena, the world number one on her own court.

"I have to get used to it and focus on the next match because the tournament is not over for me. I am not sure how I did it but just with the heart and the help from the crowd."

Williams said: "She kept her unforced errors really low. I made a few errors too many. She was going for her shots. She played really well."

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Cornet did have a confidence-boosting win over Williams in Dubai earlier this year to call upon, but it still came as a major shock to see her grab the initiative and dominate the closing stages.

Williams, 32, had looked edgy in the opening exchanges, making five errors and two double faults before the rain came at 1-1 to force the players off for several hours.

A run of five straight games on the resumption suggested the American had overcome whatever had been troubling her earlier, but the feisty Cornet came battling back.

After failing to serve out the set at 5-1, she converted at the second attempt and was pushing hard at the start of the third against an uncertain Williams.

Martina Navratilova
"What a performance from Cornet. She believed she could do it and she brings down the champion. This was a shock, particular after the rain delay. Serena was very nervous but when they came out again she was all guns blazing. But something switched on in Cornet and it all changed. I thought 6-1 6-2, but Cornet obviously had a game plan and stuck to it."

Four break points slipped by in the opening game, but Cornet was having plenty of joy on the Williams second serve and moved to within two points of victory on serve at 5-2.

Williams, who has already lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open and the second round of the French Open, was not about to give up on another chance at an 18th major title.

She heaped the pressure on Cornet with a break of serve, but two games later a wayward forehand and a poor volley gave the Frenchwoman match point. Cornet took victory when Williams could only steer a backhand into the net.

Cornet added: "It is the biggest shock of the tournament because she is the world number one and I still can't believe I did it. Me! I am loving it here in London."

Williams will get her next chance to add to her haul of major titles when she defends her US Open crown in August, but she said the competition was getting tougher.

"It's never easy, you know, being in my shoes," said the American. " But you've got to be ready."

Serena Williams
Williams had made a shaky start before the rain came with the American serving at 1-1, deuce
Serena Williams
Williams returned a rejuvenated figure after the rain break and won five straight games
Alize Cornet
Cornet came storming back in the second set and was the aggressor early in the third
Serena Williams
Williams fought back from 5-2 down in the final set to put the pressure on Cornet one more time
Alize Cornet
Cornet held her nerve by serving out the match to love, sealing the biggest win of her career

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