This is the impossible. It doesn't happen because it can't happen. Now, it did happen. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Monday, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to Sabine Lisicki.
It's not just that Serena lost, which seems nearly impossible enough. The bigger issue is this:
For maybe the first time ever, Williams buckled, both mentally and physically. Both, at the same time.
"I wasn't willing or able,'' she said, "or probably didn't even want to hold my serve today.''
Didn't want to?
"I was being sarcastic,'' Williams said. ". . . I had a little hesitation, and that explains it. I don't know. I definitely feel I tried . . . I definitely have to know going forward, if I want to be successful I'm never going to do it backing off.''
For the first time since, seemingly forever, the last American standing at a major is not named Williams. Sloane Stephens, 20, advanced to the quarterfinals by beating another prospect, Monica Puig of Puerto Rico. Stephens was far better than sh...