Serena Williams suffered a fourth-round defeat at the French Open as Elena Rybakina produced the performance of her life to reach the quarter-finals in Paris.
The 21-year-old played an incredible match in front of the fans on Court Philippe Chatrier and would not be denied in a tense finale late in the second set.
Earlier, Rybakina had stamped her authority on the contest in commanding fashion by taking the opening set 6-3 and Serena simply could not get back into the match effectively enough.
For Williams, her long wait for her elusive record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title goes on.
There was one moment that perhaps suggested it would not be Serena’s day late in the second set at a crucial moment as a ball that was travelling out from Rybakina hit her opponent’s racket with no intent.
The defeat will come as a huge disappointment for the 39-year-old, particularly given that the draw had opened up very nicely for her to succeed in Paris this year.
With Aryna Sabalenka having joined Ash Barty in leaving the tournament with a defeat on Friday morning, and with Naomi Osaka having withdrawn, the path appeared as clear as it ever could be for Williams.
But now it is Rybakina who can capitalise after she clinched her place in the last eight in Paris.
The 21st seed will be the favourite in her quarter-final clash against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who earlier in the day defeated Victoria Azarenka in three sets.