MELBOURNE, Australia -- Belinda Bencic scored the first major upset of the Australian Open on Monday, beating 2017 finalist Venus Williams 6-3, 7-5 in a groundbreaking win for the 20-year-old Swiss.
Prior to their first-round meeting, Bencic had lost four matches against the 37-year-old Williams, failing to win even a set.
But all that changed at Rod Laver Arena as the outsider pulled off a huge surprise.
Twelve months made all the difference -- a year before, Bencic lost to Serena Williams in the first round of the Open.
"It was amazing, this match, the level was great," the 77th-ranked Bencic said. "She beat me four times before, so I was really happy, I took my chance this time. In our first matches, I think I had a little bit too much respect, played a little bit careful and safe. This time I really tried to come out and hit it big. It's really tough to play her, you have to be on the limit of your game.
"You have to come out with everything you have. I tried to do that today."
Bencic, who grew up watching the Williams sisters on television, added: "I never thought I'd be playing them now, I'm really enjoying it."
Bencic missed nearly half of 2017 through injury but is now back on full form, winning 32 of her last 35 matches, with two unofficial titles at the Hopman Cup and Kooyong Classic this month in Australia.
"It was a difficult five months, your perspective changes a lot. I'm enjoying the game much more now. I appreciate just playing," she said. "I'm happy to be on court. That frustrating (injury) time taught me a lot."
Bencic earned her win with the parents of Hopman Cup team-mate Roger Federer watching from her player box. The Swiss was also enthused after hitting a between-the-legs "tweener" in morning training.