Moments after the match, Williams hinted her Roland-Garros days are not over.
“Yeah, I'm definitely not thinking about it at all,” said the three-time champion with a grin when asked if this may have been her last match on Parisian clay. “I'm definitely thinking just about other things but not about that.”
Those thoughts could be circling around some of Williams' missed chances on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday afternoon. The American three-time Paris champion erased an early break in the second set with nine successive points, swinging momentum into her direction.
Rybakina, however, was rock solid, tactically-astute as she whistled 21 winners past a perplexed Williams.
“Yeah, I think I would have just played harder, just played better, I guess? I hate regretting, though,” stated the 39-year-old, insisting the margins were fine in her pursuit of a first Parisian quarter-final since 2016.
“It was definitely close. I'm so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match. I'm not winning those points.”
Rewind to 1998 and Williams reached the fourth round on her tournament debut, a year before Rybakina was born.