The Rio de Janeiro Olympics have barely started, and already we have a shocking early exit from an American.
Venus Williams lost her first match in the singles tennis tournament to 62nd-ranked Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in three sets, despite leading 4-1 in the third set.
The fifth-seeded Williams also was serving for the match, up 5-3 in the third, but she lost the next three games to fall to the brink of defeat. Williams then broke Flipkens to get back to 6-6 and force a tiebreak.
The tiebreak also featured another Venus comeback. Down 4-1, she fought back to tie things at 5 but lost two consecutive points to drop the match.
Venus hasn’t crashed out of the Olympics altogether, though. She and her sister, Serena Williams, are gold medal favorites in the doubles tournament, which begins Sunday. They face off against Czech Republic duo Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova at approximately 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
Serena also plays her first-round singles match Sunday at around 11:15 a.m. against Daria Gavrilova of Australia.
Venus and Serena are tied for the Olympic record for career gold medals, with four each. Venus’ first two came at Sydney 2000, when she won both the singles tournament and the doubles tournament alongside Serena. The Williams sisters also won gold in the doubles tournament in 2008 and 2012. Serena won the singles tournament in 2012 in London.
Serena, 34, is currently ranked No. 1 in the world, while Venus, 36, sits at No. 6.