Sabine Lisicki sat down, clutching a towel to her face, after ousting No. 2 seed and former Family Circle Cup champion Venus Williams Thursday afternoon. There was sweat to wipe away after a hard-fought, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Williams, at No. 5 the highest-ranked player the 19-year-old from Germany has beaten. But there were also tears.
"It was everything together. It was just pure emotion," said Lisicki, who advanced to the quarterfinals in her first Family Circle Cup tournament.
Lisicki leaped into the air after clinching the winning point, then smiled and waved to the appreciative crowd. She later signed tennis balls and knocked them into the stands.
"It's a great victory beating Venus Williams," she said. "She's a great champion, and I'm really happy. I still can't really believe that I won, so I'm really happy."
After being down 4-2, Lisicki battled back to win four straight games and claim the opening set. She again found herself down 4-2 in the second set, but rallied to win four of the next five games and then stepped up her game in the tiebreaker.
Lisicki, a hard-serving rising star who is seeded 16th here, nearly matched her career-best serve of 124 mph (she had a serve that clocked 123 against Williams) and had four aces, three in the all-important second set. She won 76 percent of her first-serve points.
She is currently ranked No. 63 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and had been as high as No. 54 last year. Lisicki is coached by her father, Dr. Richard Lisicki, and late in Thursday's match she called for a conference.
"I just wanted to talk with my coach, to see what he thinks. He was actually really happy with the way I was playing, and that gave me extra confidence," she said.
Lisicki stopped short of calling the win her biggest, comparing it to her win against Lindsay Davenport in the Fed Cup.
"But beating Williams here is awesome," she said.
Lisicki said she had been sick and was not feeling 100 percent, but the victory was as good as any medication she could take.
Williams had problems getting in her first serve and Lisicki said she was able to take advantage. And Lisicki was able on the important points to count on her serve.
Williams, 28, was complimentary of her younger opponent. The two had never played each other.
"I made a few errors at the wrong time, and she made some great shots," said Williams, who won the 2004 Family Circle Cup.
Williams had to struggle through three sets before downing Sania Mirza in her second-round match and was hoping for another three-setter after losing the opening set Thursday.
"I would have loved to have gotten to a third set, and I'd like to think I would have had the advantage," Williams said. "It was a long match, but that's tennis. You come back and play the next day. So I am prepared to do that. I wasn't expecting (an early loss). I'll try to come back next year and win."