Wimbledon, England – No less than five former world No. 1 women exited the Wimbledon draw Wednesday, including former champion Maria Sharapova and reigning two-time Australian Open titlist Victoria Azarenka.
Portugal's Michelle Larcher de Brito stunned the third-seeded Sharapova in 6-3, 6-4 fashion on some slick grass on Court No. 2 at the famed All England Club, while the second-seeded Azarenka pulled out of her scheduled second-round match because of a knee injury.
Sharapova took three different spills during her shriek-filled match against the 20-year-old Larcher de Brito and also fell to the court during warm ups on a weird Day 3.
The Russian superstar left the court at one point in the second set to get some treatment on her left hip and was never able to get all the way into her match on Wednesday.
"Well, after I buckled my knee three times, that's obviously my first reaction," Sharapova said of a message to the umpire that the court was dangerous. "And because I've just never fallen that many times in a match before. Those are the conditions that are there for my opponent, as well. Just took a lot more falls than she did today.
"I just noticed a few more players falling a bit more than usual," she said. "And understandably the first couple of days, they're always a bit like that, but I don't think I've seen as much as I have maybe in the last few years."
Sharapova saved four match points in the 10th game of the second set, but the 131st-ranked Larcher de Brito converted on a fifth when the Russian netted one final forehand to suffer her worst Grand Slam loss since a second-round setback at Wimbledon in 2009.
"I give her a lot of credit," Sharapova said. "I think she played extremely well today. She was really solid from the baseline. I don't feel like I was aggressive enough, that I hit the ball deep enough. I wasn't ready after the returns or the serves. She's someone that plays extremely aggressive. I just wasn't there."
The career Grand Slam winner Sharapova captured her lone Wimbledon title in 2004 by upsetting Serena Williams in the final and was the 2011 runner-up here to Czech slugger Petra Kvitova.
Sharapova was this month's French Open runner-up to the great Williams and also lost to Williams in last year's Olympic gold-medal match on the grass here at the All England Club.
Meanwhile, Azarenka was slated to take on Flavia Pennetta in the second round, but she was clearly hobbled during her first-round win over Portugal's Maria Joao Koehler on Monday. Azarenka did a split behind the baseline during the match and injured her right knee, which required treatment on three occasions as she completed a 6-1, 6-2 triumph.
The 2012 U.S. Open runner-up tried to warm up on Wednesday morning before the match, but was unable to play, giving Pennetta a walkover into the third round.
Azarenka said that medical tests showed she had a bone bruise in the knee and she was just unable to recover in time.
"We tried to do everything as possible, but it was just very significant fall," she said. "To recover in two days after that seems impossible with the compensation on the entire body by finishing that match."
Azarenka was a semifinalist here each of the last two years.
The eighth-seeded former Wimbledon champ Kvitova reached the round of 32 without lifting her racquet, as Kazakhstan's Yaroslava Shvedova pulled out of their second-rounder because of a right arm injury.
In addition to Azarenka and Sharapova, three other former world No. 1s exited the draw. Czech Petra Cetkovska defeated ninth-seeded Dane Caroline Wozniacki, who was nursing an apparent foot or ankle injury, 6-2, 6-2, while rising 19-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard took out 12th-seeded Serb Ana Ivanovic 6-3, 6-3, and Vesna Dolonc dispatched 16th-seeded fellow Serb Jelena Jankovic 7-5, 6-2. The former U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki has never reached a Wimbledon quarterfinal, while Ivanovic is a former French Open champ who hasn't advanced beyond the fourth round at the All England Club since a semifinal showing back in 2007, and Jankovic is a former U.S. Open runner-up who has never landed in a Wimbledon quarter.
The 66th-ranked Bouchard captured the girls juniors crown at the All England Club last year.
Five of the top-10 women's seeds are already gone just three days into the fortnight.
Former Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli, seeded 15th, took care of struggling American Christina McHale 7-5, 6-4, while 17th-seeded American Sloane Stephens snuck past former top-10 German Andrea Petkovic 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 8-6. Stephens was an Aussie Open semifinalist back in January.
In other action involving seeds, No. 19 Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain overcame Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 1-6, 6-3, 6-3; No. 20 Belgian and last week's grass-court runner-up in Den Bosch Kirsten Flipkens vanquished Serb Bojana Jovanovski 6-4, 6-4; Italian Camila Giorgi upended No. 22 Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (8-6); No. 25 Russian Ekaterina Makarova edged out Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4; Italian Karin Knapp doused No. 27 Czech Lucie Safarova 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; and No. 29 Alize Cornet of France drubbed Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh 6-3, 6-2.
Also on Day 3, Puerto Rico's Monica Puig beat Spaniard Silvia Soler-Espinosa 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 and Czech Eva Birnerova dismissed Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-4.
The second round is scheduled to conclude on Thursday, including a match for the current world No. 1 Williams, who will meet France's Caroline Garcia.
The reigning Wimbledon champ and five-time overall winner Williams is riding a career-best 32-match overall winning streak and is a brilliant 75-3 since losing in the first round at last year's French Open.
The 31-year-old superstar is also the reigning French and U.S. Open champion who owns 16 Grand Slam singles titles overall. She beat Agnieszka Radwanska in last year's final here to capture her third Wimbledon title in four years and also captured an Olympic gold medal at the All England Club last summer.
Also on the Day-4 schedule are a fourth-seeded Radwanska, sixth-seeded Aussie Open runner-up and former French Open champion Li Na and seventh-seeded Angelique Kerber.