A slow-burning contest burst into life in the ninth game when Wang broke Williams to love, raising a gasp from the crowd with a breathless rush to the net.
Serena Williams has been beaten out of Australian Open on Friday, her earliest in 14 years, falling 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang in a stunning third round upset that tore the women’s tournament open.
Wang, who was thrashed 6-1 6-0 by Williams in the U.S. Open quarter-finals, savored sweet revenge on Rod Laver Arena to end the American’s bid for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title, sending shockwaves through Melbourne Park.
A day before the Chinese New Year, 27th seed Wang wavered when serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but was magnificent under pressure in the decider.
She broke Williams’s formidable serve to seal the thriller on the third match point when the American dumped a backhand into the net.
It was Williams’ earliest exit from the year’s first Grand Slam since 2006, when her title defense was ended by Daniela Hantuchova.
Wang, 28, said Chinese New Year celebrations would be on hold before her fourth round clash against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who knocked out Williams’s good friend and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, drawing the curtain on the retiring Dane’s career in tennis.