Last month in the Miami final, an injured Williams lost to the 11th seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-1. Then in her opening match at Marbella, Spain, the American lost to the 95th ranked Klara Zakapalova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
But after images of Williams practising with tennis guru Nick Bollettieri on a clay court surfaced last week, the general consensus was that Williams might make a run of it on the clay courts, her least favorite surface.
However the 20th ranked Patty Schynder of Switzerland upset Williams today 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. Williams had led Schynder head to head 8-3, although the Swiss entered today's match 2-0 versus Williams on clay. After defeating Williams in the Charleston quarterfinals in 2002 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, the crafty left-hander again upset Williams in Rome two years ago in the quarterfinals 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(7-5).
Schnyder reached a career high WTA Tour ranking of seven in 2005 and last year posted quarterfinal showings at both the French Open and the US Open.
Williams, who took the Rome, Italy title in 2002, had hoped to meet her sister, the Wimbledon champion and 4th seeded Venus Williams in the final this weekend.
And despite having lost the world number one ranking to Dinara Safina of Russia almost exactly one week ago, Williams insisted she was the still best.
"We all know who the real number one is," Williams said Monday. "Quite frankly, I'm the best in the world."
Williams leads Safina head to head 6-1 and took their last three meetings including a January 6-0, 6-3 Australian Open championship match. Last spring however Safina snapped a Williams 17 match winning streak in the Berlin quarterfinals 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(7-5) to claim her only win versus the American.
Against Schnyder today except for inspired play in set two, Williams failed to display her best tennis or movement around the tennis court in the match which finished after midnight local time.