CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Serena Williams was ousted from the Family Circle Cup on Tuesday, shocked 6-4, 6-4 by Jana Cepelova of Slovakia in the second round.
"I'm really just dead. I need some weeks off where I don't think about tennis and kind of regroup," Williams said after the match. "I've had a long couple of years, and I'm really a little fatigued."
Williams, the top seed and defending champion in Charleston, was looking for her second straight title and her third this year after winning a record seventh Sony Open last weekend.
But with only 18 minutes gone in the match, she was down 0-5 on the green clay at the Family Circle Tennis Center. Williams rallied, winning four straight games surrendering only six points and it looked like Cepelova's lead would be short-lived. But the 20-year-old Cepelova came back and, holding serve in the final game, was able to win the set.
Williams said later she feels emotionally and physically spent.
"Definitely a little bit of both. But again, I think Jana played really well for her today," she said. "The good thing is I know I can play a lot better. So it's always really positive for me."
Cepelova's run out to a quick lead silenced the crowd, which was in the defending champion's corner
"I have 5-0 and I was a little bit nervous, but I did it," said Cepelova, ranked 78th in world. "You know, you play against No. 1 player and you never know. It was a tough situation for me, but I'm really happy that I keep the set."
Williams' sister, Venus, also struggled on Tuesday, but edged Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3, 0-6, 7-5.
"I've actually been pretty sick lately — I've been having like a bug," Venus Williams she said after the match that lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes. "You just have to play your way into the week and just continue to feel better."
Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion has battled injuries and Sjogren's syndrome, a fatigue-causing autoimmune disease, during the past two years.
"I haven't gotten rid of it. I wish I could have. Unfortunately it just clings to me," Williams said. "I've just learned to handle it mentally and also I try to do things all the time, just always going for optimal health."