WIMBLEDON, England – Venus and Serena Williams were eliminated in the fourth round of Wimbledon on Monday, the first time in five years that neither sister will play in the quarterfinals at the All England Club.
Defending champion and four-time winner Serena was the first to go, beaten 6-3, 7-6 (6) by Marion Bartoli of France, cutting short the American's return to Grand Slam tennis after nearly a year out with serious health problems.
Older sister and five-time champion Venus was ousted 6-2, 6-3 by Tsvetana Pironkova -- the exact same score of the Bulgarian's win in last year's quarterfinals.
"Definitely not our best day," Venus said. "I think we both envisioned seeing this day going a little bit different."
Also knocked out was top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who fell 1-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5 to No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova in the Dane's latest failed attempt to win her first Grand Slam title.
Venus and Serena have won nine of the last 11 titles at Wimbledon, and have faced each other in four finals.
In 2006, Venus lost in the third round and Serena missed the tournament. This is the first year that, when both sisters were in the draw, both lost before the quarterfinals.
The last time the sisters lost on the same day at a Grand Slam was in 2008, when they fell in the third round at the French Open.
"Obviously it's not something planned," Venus said. "We rarely lose on the sametime since then. Venus also returned at Eastbourne after a five-month layoff with a hip injury.
Venus was clearly off the top of her game Monday, committing 16 unforced errors and converting only one of four break points. She was broken four times.
"I didn't seem to get the ball in," Venus said. "She took her opportunities. I just didn't put the ball in the court, simple as that. Unfortunately, I seem not to have my good days against her. But she played well."
The 33rd-seeded Pironkova, who lost in the semifinals here last year to eventual runner-up Vera Zvonareva, played steady tennis against Venus and never cracked.
"I beat her two times, two consecutive years -- it feels amazing to play such a champion on this legendary court," the Bulgarian said after holding serve and stroking a backhand winner down the line on her second match point. "When I come here I just feel so relaxed. I really like the atmosphere here."
Serena saved four match points before the ninth-seeded Bartoli closed out the contest by hitting a service winner into the corner. It was Serena's earliest exit at Wimbledon since a third-round loss in 2005.
"I never came here thinking I would lose," she said. "That's my attitude. You win some and you lose some. Today just happened to be the one that slipped under me."
But Serena said she was satisfied getting as far as she did after such a long time away from the game.
"I think I did really well just being able to come back and play and win some matches, and just really play tough," she said. "Even today I lost, but I was able to kind of hang in there with on-court temperatures measured at 93 degrees, and Sharapova covered her legs with ice wrapped in towels during changeovers.
"Last year I lost in the fourth round to Serena and this year I find myself in the quarterfinals and I'm giving myself an opportunity to go even in further so I'm quite happy about that," Sharapova said. "I have to be a little realistic about the fact that I haven't gotten past the fourth round in a few years. This is a step forward."
In other women's play, fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka beat Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-2; German wild card Sabine Lisicki reached the quarters for the second time, downing Petra Cetkovska 7-6 (3), 6-1; No. 8 Petra Kvitova, a semifinalist here last year, needed just 45 minutes to defeat No. 19 Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-2; and 80th-ranked Austrian Tamira Paszek beat Ksenia Pervak of Russia 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 to secure her first Grand Slam quarterfinal berth.