WIMBLEDON, England – Two-time champion Serena Williams lost at Wimbledon one round shy of another showdown with sister Venus.

Still rusty following a layoff and slowed by an ankle injury, Serena was upset Saturday by fellow American Jill Craybas 6-3, 7-6 (4).

Williams departed hours after her older sister advanced to the fourth round by beating Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 6-3. Venus will next play Craybas, who arrived at Wimbledon with a career record of 7-23 in Grand Slam tournaments.

It was Williams’ earliest elimination at a major event since the 1999 French Open.

“I’ve never been one to lose well,” said Williams, who fought back tears and dabbed at her eyes during a postmatch news conference. “I’m just used to winning these kind of matches. It’s hard for me to go out there and you can’t make a shot and you’ve been making them for years.”

The match was scheduled as the last of the day on Centre Court, but because other matches there ran long, Williams and Craybas were moved to Court 2 – the “Graveyard of Champions.” Past losers there have included Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and seven-time champion Pete Sampras in his final match at Wimbledon.

Williams made a late decision to play at Wimbledon following a six-week layoff because of a left ankle injury. Earlier this week she said for the first time that her ankle was slightly broken, but she declined to blame the injury for the loss to Craybas.

“I think I was better off staying at home,” Williams said. “I shouldn’t have lost this match. She didn’t have to do anything exceptionally well. She just had to show up.”

On a chilly, cloudy afternoon, other women’s winners included Lindsay Davenport, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova. None lost a set.

Two-time defending champion Roger Federer and 2004 runner-up Andy Roddick advanced in men’s play.

Williams earned her seventh Grand Slam title in January at the Australian Open but hasn’t won a tournament since, and it was clear from the start this week she wasn’t at her best.

She was pushed to three sets in the opening two rounds for the first time at a Grand Slam event, and Saturday’s match was just her fourth in 21/2 months.

Williams lost her first five service games and became increasingly frustrated as she fell behind. When she sent a swinging volley long to lose the opening game of the second set, she looked to the gray sky with an anguished expression, then tossed her racket.

By the end Williams looked exhausted, panting between points. But she continued to battle, shouting “Come on!” or “Yes!” almost every time she hit a winner.

She overcame a 4-2 deficit in the second set to lead 5-4 and 6-5, and was up 2-0 in the tiebreaker. On the next point Craybas’ forehand clipped the net and dropped for a winner, starting a run of five consecutive points for her.

Williams pulled within 5-4, then put shots into the net on the final two points. Craybas leaped in glee and was met at the net by a gracious Williams, who smiled as they shook hands.

“I’m not sure if it has hit me yet,” Craybas said, “but it feels real good.”

Federer, accustomed to hitting improbable winners at Wimbledon, came up with a shot on the run that amazed even him. The top-ranked Swiss delivered a feathery, crosscourt backhand in the final game and beat Nicolas Kiefer, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 7-5.

“A beautiful shot,” Federer said. “I hit it, and once I looked it was already on the other side of the net. It was an important shot, you know.”

Eager to avoid a fifth set, Federer rallied twice from a service break down in the last set. He hit three aces in the final game to go with the picturesque backhand, completing his 32nd consecutive victory on grass and 17th in a row at the All England Club. Seeking his first major title this year, Federer will next play 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, who reached the fourth round to equal his best showing at Wimbledon. Seeded 23rd, Ferrero rallied and eliminated 2004 Wimbledon quarterfinalist Florian Mayer 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.

Second-seeded Roddick, who lost to Federer in last year’s final, held every service game and beat Igor Andreev 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (4).

“Mission accomplished for the first week,” said Roddick, who played for the third day in a row because of a rain-interrupted second-round match. “Now it’s time to get down to business.”

Roddick’s opponent in the fourth round Monday will be No. 15 Guillermo Coria, who rallied past Jurgen Melzer 3-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

No. 18 David Nalbandian ended 18-year-old Scotsman Andrew Murray’s surprising run with a comeback victory, 6-7 (4), 1-6, 6-0, 6-4, 6-1. Murray was the lone remaining player from Britain, which last crowned a men’s champion in 1936.

Top-ranked Davenport routed Dinara Safina 6-2, 6-1 and next plays four-time Grand Slam runner-up Clijsters, who eliminated Roberta Vinci 6-3, 6-4. Clijsters will try to avenge a fourth-round loss to Davenport at the French Open last month.

Victories by Sharapova and Nadia Petrova gave Russia six women in the final 16. Defending champion Sharapova eliminated Katarina Srebotnik 6-2, 6-4 victory. No. 8-seeded Petrova beat wild card Cara Black 6-4, 6-3. Conchita Martinez’s 14th consecutive Wimbledon ended when she lost to Kveta Peschke 6-4, 6-1.

French Open runner-up Mary Pierce, playing at Wimbledon for the 10th time, defeated 17-year-old Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-4.

Eleni Daniilidou, who upset French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne in the opening round, was eliminated by No. 26 Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-3.

In the completion of a match suspended Friday because of rain, No. 31-seeded Mikhail Youzhny celebrated his 23rd birthday by beating Jonas Bjorkman 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9).

Gilles Muller, who eliminated French Open champion Rafael Nadal in the second round, lost to No. 27 Richard Gasquet 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-3.


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