However Williams’ level of play dropped immediately to start set two as she hit several unforced errors to drop serve to fall behind a break of serve.
“Venus was unbelievable at the beginning,” Navarro would later say.
The Spaniard responded by raising the level of her own game and hitting the ball earlier and directing more groundstrokes deep down the middle of the court which seemed to trouble the tall Williams.
Navarro won the first four games of set two before the American held serve to reach 1-4. The Spaniard then held serve then broke serve to send the match into set three.
Williams had won hard fought third and fourth round matches on Saturday and Monday respectively and appeared to be somewhat flat physically during this middle section of the match but was able to break serve to start the final set.
Navarro won the following two games to lead 2-1.
Williams then held serve at love to level the set at two games all after striking two groundstroke winners and an ace out wide.
Following two breaks of serve, Navarro held serve at love to lead 4-3 as Williams netted three groundstrokes.
Serving at 40-15, the American struck a 115 miles per hour ace down the tee to hold serve to pull even at 4 all.
Playing her signature style of all or nothing tennis, Williams hit two forehand down the line winners and three groundstroke errors as Navarro held serve to lead 5-4.
Both players then held serve as the Spaniard led 6-5.
Serving to stay in the match, Williams struck a 117 miles per hour ace down the tee; her sixth ace of the night, to lead 15-0.
However Williams then struck two back to back double faults into the net to trail 15-30.
The double faults, Williams’ only double faults of the final set would prove key.
On the following point, the American netted a crosscourt backhand then screamed as she faced double match point.
On the run from left to right along the baseline, Williams netted a flat crosscourt forehand to end the match after one hour and 49 minutes of play following a surprising turnaround of momentum midway through the encounter.
“I just made a little too many errors,” Williams said. “Towards the end just never found the happy medium between being aggressive and putting the ball in the court.”
Despite the loss, Williams, on the rebound from several injuries in 2012 and 2013, should move up next week in the WTA Tour rankings from 16 to at least 15.
Based on her form this year, Williams is expected to return to the top ten this spring or summer.