Originally Published: January 15, 2018 11:40 p.m.
MELBOURNE, Australia — U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens was first to go, followed quickly by last year’s Australian Open runner-up, Venus Williams.
CoCo Vandeweghe went out next as things really started to go crazy for the U.S. women, who eventually lost nine out of 10 first-round matches on a bleak opening day of the Australian Open.
Four months after American women filled all four semifinal spots at the U.S. Open — for the first time in 36 years — three of them are out of contention at the next Grand Slam.
Monday’s major letdown was compounded when eighth-seeded Jack Sock and No. 16 John Isner joined the procession of U.S. first-round losers.
In her first match at Rod Laver Arena since a vintage run in 2017 ended in a championship loss to sister Serena, Venus Williams lost her opener to Belinda Bencic 6-3, 7-5 to ensure the title won’t stay in the family.
Serena Williams hasn’t played a Grand Slam tournament since winning her 23rd major in Australia last year because of her pregnancy and the birth of her first child.
Fifth-seeded Venus was considered a serious contender in her 77th major to break a Grand Slam title drought dating back to 2008.