Serena Williams Upset in Straight Sets by Sofia Kenin at 2019 French Open

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2019

Sofia Kenin of the U.S. warms up prior to her third round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Serena Williams of the U.S. at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Saturday, June 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Serena Williams was eliminated from the round of 32 at the 2019 French Open after slipping to a shock straight-sets defeat to fellow American Sofia Kenin on Saturday.

Kenin, still just 20, took the first set 6-2 before winning the second 7-5 to complete a remarkable achievement.

This defeat will raise questions about Williams' ability to continue to compete at the top end of women's tennis.

Kenin's ability to attack Williams' serve proved key during the opening set. She frequently put the veteran on the edge of being broken:

Courtney Nguyen @FortyDeuceTwits

Sofia Kenin is a hell of a competitor. Has already generated 3 BPs. So is Serena Williams. Has already saved 3BPs. This will be fun.

Eventually, Kenin earned a pair of breaks, which allowed her to take the set. Aside from her ability to wreck the Williams serve, Kenin was also causing havoc with a series of deft drop shots that challenged the 37-year-old's ability to move swiftly across the red clay in Paris.

It seemed Kenin had her decorated opponent well scouted. Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times offered one reason why the younger player may have had the inside track to victory:

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

Lots of players have admired and looked up to the Williamses, but Sofia Kenin followed their footprints more directly than most: she trained with Rick Macci, who was a coach of Venus and Serena's for many of their formative teen years. #RG19

Kenin also wasn't above gaining a psychological edge to keep Williams rattled:

Allen McDuffee @AllenMcDuffee

Serena is not having all this line-checking Kenin is demanding. #RG19 #RolandGarros

The effect was obvious as Williams continued to struggle finding her range. Too many shots were rushed and missed as Kenin kept the pressure on.

Said pressure yielded another valuable break for Kenin early in the second set.

It took a defiant show of resilience for Williams to put a halt to an alarming run of losing:

Christopher Clarey @christophclarey

After losing SEVEN straight games to young American Sofia Kenin, Serena Williams holds serve

Williams sensed a telling moment and soon forged her way into a 4-3 lead. However, the pace of the Kenin serve was still causing her problems, and the set was even in no time.

Both players held serve before Williams missed a key forehand to put another break in sight for Kenin. A double-fault pushed Williams closer to a failure to hold, and Kenin broke decisively with a stunning forehand to leave her serving the set.

Despite some mistakes, Kenin eventually held her nerve to condemn Williams to an early exit on a day when self-inflicted mistakes ultimately undid the 23-time Grand Slam winner.