WIMBLEDON, England - While Roger Federer glided to another victory on Centre Court, and Rafael Nadal won despite a scary stumble on Court 1, the Williams sisters found themselves playing back to back Monday on cozy, clattery Court 2, known as the 'Graveyard of Champions.'
What in the name of lawn tennis were they doing out there?
'It wasn't what I would have liked to see,' Serena Williams said. 'Initially I thought, 'OK, is this the right schedule?' I thought maybe there was a mistake.'
The sisters' mother and coach, Oracene Price, suspected more than a mere mistake by tournament organizers.
'I guess they wanted to put them on the jinx court so they could lose,' Price said.
The sisters said Wimbledon gives men preferential treatment in court assignments, while Federer came to the defense of the All England Club, and the tournament referee said there was no intent to slight anyone.
Even after Venus and Serena spent the day at the Graveyard, their title hopes remained very much alive. They're defying the trend in a women's tournament that, by one measure, ranks as the most upset-filled on record.
Four-time champion Venus played first, making a high-noon entrance on the court known for its history of upsets and beating Alisa Kleybanova 6-3, 6-4.
Ninety minutes later, two-time champ Serena joined her older sister in the quarterfinals by defeating American Bethanie Mattek 6-3, 6-3.
Neither sister has lost a set in the tournament, and the chances of a sibling showdown in the final keep improving as a wave of upsets take out other title contenders. The fourth round claimed No. 2-seeded Jelena Jankovic and No. 4 Svetlana Kuznetsova, leaving No. 5 Elena Dementieva as the highest-seeded survivor among the final eight.
The elimination before the quarterfinals of the women seeded Nos. 1-4 has never previously happened at Wimbledon since the tournament began keeping such records in 1927. It's the first time it has happened at any Grand Slam event in the 40-year Open era.
'Every player is ready to play, especially at these Slams,' Venus Williams said. 'Everyone comes out with double vengeance, so you just have to be ready.'
Jankovic, slowed by a knee injury she suffered in the previous round, lost to No. 60-ranked Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-3, 6-2. Kuznetsova was beaten by No. 14-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
Their defeats ensure Ana Ivanovic of retaining the No. 1 ranking next week, even though she was beaten by Zheng Jie in the third round. The No. 133-ranked Zheng, who needed a wild card to enter the tournament, became a first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist by beating No. 15-seeded Agnes Szavay 6-3, 6-4.
Alla Kudryavtseva, who upset No. 3-seeded Maria Sharapova in the second round, was eliminated by Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-4.
Tanasugarn, a first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist at age 31, will play Venus Williams today. The 19-year-old Radwanska will face Serena Williams.
Almost as unpredictable is the men's draw, with eight of the top 10 players eliminated. But the No. 1-ranked Federer and No. 2 Nadal remain on course to meet in the final for the third consecutive year.
While Federer beat 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt for the 12th time in a row Monday, Nadal hurt his right leg against Mikhail Youzhny and stopped in the middle of the second game for treatment by a trainer.
Nadal slipped on worn turf behind the baseline while stretching for a shot, and his right leg bent awkwardly. He said he felt a crack behind the knee.
'I felt a little bit pain,' he said. 'I was a little bit scared.'
After the trainer wrapped Nadal's leg below the knee, the Spaniard showed no sign the injury bothered him the rest of the way, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.
'Right now I am feeling better,' Nadal said an hour after the victory. 'Tomorrow we will see how I wake up. But hopefully going to be fine.'