June 26 (Bloomberg) -- Maria Sharapova was beaten in the second round of Wimbledon by a qualifier ranked 128 places below her.
Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal defeated the 2004 champion 6-3, 6-4, on Court 2 at the All England Club in London. It was the earliest loss at the grass-court tennis tournament for Sharapova since 2009. Larcher de Brito, ranked 131st on the women’s WTA tour, had never got past the second round at Wimbledon before today.
“It was unbelievable, it’s probably the best win of my career,” Larcher de Brito said in a televised interview. “I just tried to stay calm.”
Sharapova had shouted “how many times” after she fell on the grass at the end of the first set. The Russian fell again at 3-2 in the second set, and spoke to the umpire after that.
Earlier today, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki rolled her ankle on the same court in her loss against Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic. Seven players have today retired or withdrawn from their matches because of injury.
When asked if she’d overheard Sharapova telling the umpire the court was “dangerous,” Larcher de Brito said, “These courts can be slippery and dangerous. There was a lot of grass that’s been cut that hadn’t been swept off. It was a tough court to play on.”
Sharapova, the third seed, had made the final of the French Open earlier this month, where she lost to Serena Williams of the U.S., the defending champion at Wimbledon.
Sharapova, 26, became a global star, and subsequently the world’s best-paid female athlete, after beating Williams at Wimbledon when she was 17 years old. Her victory at Roland Garros last year made her only the sixth woman since tennis turned professional in 1968 to complete the career Grand Slam of having won all four majors at least once.
The six-foot-two (1.88-meter) Siberian-born player, who moved to the U.S. at the age of seven, also won the 2006 U.S. Open and the 2008 Australian Open.
In other completed second-round matches, German qualifier Dustin Brown upset 2002 men’s champion Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2.
“I cried like a little girl,” Brown said in a news conference. “Just happy and emotional and everything. I have a lot of friends here, my coach is here, my girlfriend is here. Just been a very long way. Just happy that I actually got through the match.”
Cetkovska, a qualifier from the Czech Republic, beat Denmark’s Wozniacki, the ninth seed, 6-2, 6-2, while Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard overcame No. 12 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, 6-3, 6-3. On the men’s side, Spain’s Nicolas Almagro and Fernando Verdasco beat Frenchmen Guillaume Rufin and Julien Benneteau, respectively.
Women’s second-seed Victoria Azarenka, men’s No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 10th-seeded Marin Cilic were among those who quit the tournament. Steve Darcis, who upset two-time champion Rafael Nadal in the first round, and Yarovslava Shvedova also withdrew, while John Isner and Radek Stepanek retired during matches because of injuries. After 2 1/2 days of the tournament, nine players have left with illness or injury.
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