August 14, 2008 / 3:48 PM / 9 years ago

Venus tumbles to defeat by Li

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.

<p>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. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>

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.”

<p>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. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>

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.

<p>Li Na of China celebrates after defeating Venus Williams of the U.S. in their quarterfinal tennis match at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, August 14, 2008. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard</p>

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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