Competing in her 40th Major semi-final, Serena Williams suffered the first loss in the semi-final round at Melbourne Park in her career. The 23-time Major champion experienced a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Naomi Osaka in an hour and 15 minutes, propelling the Japanese into her fourth Major final.
Serena played well in the opening five rounds, beating Laura Siegemund, Nina Stojanovic, Anastasia Potapova, Aryna Sabalenka and world no. 2 Simona Halep in style, losing one set and playing on the highest level since she returned to action in 2018.
Serena was impressive against Halep two days ago, defending well and dominating with her sharp groundstrokes to topple the Romanian in 80 minutes and set the mouthwatering clash against Osaka. The Japanase survived a tough challenge against Garbine Muguruza and gained momentum after that encounter, seeking the fourth Major title and proving to be too strong for Serena on Thursday.
Serena Williams lost to Naomi Osaka in straight sets at the Australian Open.
Crashed and down, Serena couldn't say much during the press conference, repeating how she made too many easy mistakes and leaving after only a couple of minutes with tears in her eyes.
Both players served under 50% and Osaka provided more efficient numbers behind the first serve, defending five out of seven break chances and earning four breaks from as many opportunities to find herself in the title match.
Osaka shifted into a higher gear from 2-0 down in the opening set and claimed six of the next seven games to grab the opener 6-3. Serena pulled the break back at 3-4 in set number two to prolong the action before Naomi seized a break at love with a backhand winner and sealed the deal with a hold at love.
"I don't know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone. I'm done. The difference today was errors; I made so many of those today. Honestly, there were opportunities where I could have won. I could have been up 5-0 in front, but I made too many mistakes.
I felt like I was hitting well this whole tournament. Even the first couple of games. I played well and had my chances after that. Yeah, so it was – I don't know, just too many easy mistakes, not like there were forced or anything," Serena Williams said.