Serena Williams lost to Virginie Razzano at the French Open, her first opening-round defeat in 47 appearances at a Grand Slam tennis tournament.
The fifth-seeded American was defeated 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 at Roland Garros in Paris. Her earliest previous loss at one of the four majors was a second-round defeat by her sister Venus at the 1998 Australian Open.
France’s Razzano, ranked 106 places below Williams, clinched the victory on her eighth match point. She had trailed 5-1 in the second-set tiebreaker before winning the final six points and then taking the first five games of the last set.
“The crowd helped me so much today,” Razzano, who struggled with leg cramps, told French television after the match that lasted three hours and three minutes. “I played aggressive. It’s the best win of my career.”
Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam champion, had won three straight games in the third set before sending a backhand shot long to end a final game that featured eight match points, five break points and 12 deuces. Razzano raised her arms and the crowd roared after the final point.
“I started making a lot of errors,” Williams told a news conference. “I tried, I kept going for my shots. It always works out for me, but not today,” said the American, who produced 47 unforced errors and struck 39 winners. Razzano had 36 unforced errors and 30 winners.
Williams’s Clay Streak
Before today, Williams had a 17-0 record on clay this year, the longest women’s run on the surface since Belgium’s Justine Henin won 27 straight over the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Williams had beaten top-ranked Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the finals of Madrid earlier this month, which made her the 5-2 favorite to win her first French Open title in a decade at U.K. bookmaker William Hill Plc. (WMH)
Williams last won a major title at 2010 Wimbledon. After that, she missed almost a year because of illness including a blood clot in her lungs. She returned at Wimbledon last year, losing in the fourth round. She was beaten in the final of the U.S. Open last year by Sam Stosur of Australia and lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January.
Williams, who had pulled out of the semifinals of Rome two weeks before Paris with a back problem, refused to blame any injuries for her loss.
“I’m 100 percent healthy,” she said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com; Danielle Rossingh in London at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at email@example.com