Venus tumbles to defeat by Li

BEIJING Thu Aug 14, 2008 7:41pm BST

1 of 3. Venus Williams of the U.S. dries her face during her women's singles quarterfinal tennis match against Li Na of China at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 14, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Gaillard

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Double Olympic champion Venus Williams was beaten 7-5 7-5 by China's Li Na in the quarter-final of the women's singles on Thursday.

Shortly after her sister Serena had been knocked out by Elena Dementieva, Venus, the seventh seed, crashed out to an inspired home favorite who immediately offered the victory as a present to the Beijing Olympics.

"Venus was the best player in the world, she has just won Wimbledon," Li told reporters. "She has big serves that I can't receive but I told myself to calm down and play my best.

"Wow! You can't see this kind of crowd anywhere else. It helped me and pushed me a lot. This is a present I give to the Beijing Olympic Games but I have no time to celebrate. I have more matches to go."

Venus raced into a 3-0 lead in the opening set but Li, the first Chinese player to reach the top 20 in the world rankings, proved she had the stomach for a fight.

After regaining parity, she seized the moment to break the Williams serve at 5-5 and served out the set in style.

Williams, who won gold in doubles and singles in Sydney eight years ago, founds herself 3-0 down in the second set as the decibel level reached new heights.

The American fought back to lead 4-3 but Li continued to play the better tennis and claimed victory when her opponent dumped a forehand into the net on her second match point.

(Additional reporting by Liu Zhen)

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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