PARIS - No more giggly news conferences. No more reports on famous people met at the Cannes Film Festival. And no more simply fascinating ruminations about the exact colors of their tennis outfits.
Serena and Venus Williams are out of the French Open. Both of them. On the same day, in the same quarterfinal round, in the same tournament for the first time since they were both professionals, beginning in 1995, and these twin losses probably mark the end of their days of domination of the WTA Tour.
On a drippy day yesterday that delayed the start of play by 21 minutes and led to three further rain stoppages, Serena lost to Jennifer Capriati's new, killer finishing touch, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, and Venus, looking alternatively distracted and uninterested, was beaten by Anastasia Myskina of Russia, 6-3, 6-4.
In the top half of the draw, ninth-seeded Elena Dementieva joined her Russian compatriot Myskina in the semifinals by upsetting No. 3 Amelie Mauresmo of France, 6-4, 6-3, and Paula Suarez, the forgotten Argentine, ended the run of a third Russian, Maria Sharapova, 6-1, 6-3.
But the importance of those matches was greatly overshadowed by the astonishing Williams defeats. It's been four years since Serena and Venus Williams have been doubled out of a major before the semifinals.
"I just had a bad day with the serve," Serena said after popping five double faults, four in the third set and two in a row in the crucial fourth game, in which Capriati broke to go up 3-1. "And I don't think I got any first serves in," she added. She was, of course, exaggerating. But 39 percent on first serves during the third set was certainly a factor in her loss.
At 30-40 in the third set, Serena had to hit yet another second serve and Capriati stepped inside the baseline, edged over so far her left foot was resting on the singles sideline tape, and when Serena put the serve right in her strike zone, Capriati crashed an inside-out forehand that Serena could only pop up.
Capriati closed quickly on the net and slugged the high volley winner for the break, then served out the match at 40-30, though only after a near controversy that could have been even bigger than the one involving Williams and Justine Henin-Hardenne in the semifinals of last year's French.
Capriati's ground stroke on the baseline on match point was called out by a linesman but overruled by chair umpire Pascal Marie of France after Williams stroked the ball back into the net.
Capriati thought she had won the match and began to rejoice when Marie ordered a replay. No problem and no argument. She ended it this time with a running forehand that Williams netted.
"I'm just so happy and relieved," Capriati said. "I looked up at my parents and I was like, `It's about time one of these went my way for once.' "
Serena offered no excuses for her defeat. Venus, however, did, saying, "I think both of us would have liked to have had a better preparation for the event."
Venus' match finished 28 minutes after Serena's and, while she wouldn't say for sure, she evidently knew her sister had crashed out.
"I try not to look at the scoreboard," she said. "That doesn't mean I didn't."
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
Guillermo Coria (3), Argentina, def. Carlos Moya (5), Spain, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-3. Tim Henman (9), Britain, def. Juan Ignacio Chela (22), Argentina, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
Paola Suarez (14), Argentina, def. Maria Sharapova (18), Russia, 6-1, 6-3. Jennifer Capriati (7), United States, def. Serena Williams (2), United States, 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. Anastasia Myskina (6), Russia, def. Venus Williams (4), United States, 6-3, 6-4. Elena Dementieva (9), Russia, def. Amelie Mauresmo (3), France, 6-4, 6-3.