In one of the most shocking upsets in women’s tennis history, tournament favorite Serena Williams was stunned today in the first round of the French Open losing to French Veteran Virginie Razzano 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.
Serena entered the tournament in-form and riding a 17-match win streak on the clay surface, and she’d been dominant all spring.
But the 13-time Slam champ’s game began to unravel once she led Razzano 5-1 in the second set tiebreak.
Razzano won the last six points of the breaker, then jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the final set, as Serena’s error count piled up.
Serena fought back but Razzano closed it out on her 8th matchpoint 6-3 when the umpire confirmed Williams’s ball landed long. The win was quite an accomplishment for the 29-year-old Razzano who tragically suffered the loss of her coach/fiance last May just before the French Open.
”I had to dig deep against a great champion and you could see until the end that she gave away nothing,” Razzano said. ”I had to go and get the victory. I had to be mentally strong, and I gave my everything.”
The defeat was Serena’s first in a Grand Slam first round match in her career. She was 46-0 in first round Grand Slam matches.
Serena, who’s last Grand Slam title came at 2010 Wimbledon, will now look ahead to mixed doubles play with Bob Bryan.
After a sparkling 10-0 start to the tournament, American women went 0-2 today with Serena and Jamie Hampton losing.
Serena’s presser is below:
Q. I know you just finished the match and it’s hard to describe. Just kind of talk about from 51 in the second set breaker on, what kind of happened there?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I just started making a lot of errors. I mean, the whole match, I just didn’t play at all the way I have been practicing.
So, yeah, I just made I don’t know how many errors I ended up making, but I haven’t been playing like that in the past.
Q. Do you want to talk about the last game? You climbed back to 53. I think five or six breakpoint opportunities. Couldn’t get over the hump?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I tried. I kept going for my shots which always works for me.
It didn’t work out today, but, um, yeah, I just wasn’t I made so many errors today which isn’t the game that I’ve been playing in the past. You know, that’s it. That’s life.
Q. Can I just ask you about the breaker again? Were there nerves? There was that one ball you decided to challenge. I think it was around 53 that you could easily have hit back on the lob. Talk about that.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I definitely was nervous. I’m always a little nervous in every match I play, which I think is a little bit healthy.
So, yeah, I mean, I think it’s normal. I was definitely a little nervous.
But, yeah, there’s no excuse maybe. I thought it was out, and then it wasn’t. So…
Q. Did you sort of feel the match slipping away? Could you talk about that?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Um, yeah, no, I never really feel anything slipping away or anything. I just I just felt I couldn’t get a ball in play. You know, when I did I just felt like I was hitting late and, I mean, how can you hit late on a clay court? It was kind of odd.
Q. What was going on in your head in that incredible last game? What were some of your thoughts?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, I thought, you know, just staying, get it back to deuce. Then I thought, whatever you do, don’t get it back to deuce at one point, couple times.
But that didn’t work. I just was thinking, okay, if I could break here, then we’ll be back on serve. You know, those are the kind of things that are going through your head.
Q. Did you right at the end of the tiebreaker you grabbed your back a couple times. Did you pull anything? Did you feel anything abnormal?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, no, no, I didn’t feel anything abnormal. I was 100% healthy.
Q. I would like to know if you knew about Virginie’s story, about her husband who she has lost last year. She’s a very special player for us in France. Did you know her story and what do you think of what she did today?
SERENA WILLIAMS: (Smiling.)
That’s a bit of an intricate question. I yeah, I know of her story and her husband. We all have stories. I mean, I almost died and Venus is struggling herself. So, you know, it’s life. You know, it just depends on how you deal with it. She obviously is dealing with it really well.
Everybody, like Mardy Fish, he’s even having trouble. Everybody has something that they’re dealing with. You’ve just got to deal with it.
Q. What about her performance today on the court?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I think she can give you a better idea than I can. (Smiling.)
Q. At the end of the second set you went very emotional before the start of the serve. What was going through your mind after losing this? Was it anger, frustration?
SERENA WILLIAMS: No, I just think, you know, always think, okay, let’s just try to get a good start to this third set. You know, the match isn’t over yet. So that’s kind of what I was trying to do.
Q. Everyone has his own nightmares. I’d like to know if Eva Asderaki is one of your nightmares.
SERENA WILLIAMS: If what?
Q. Eva Asderaki, the umpire, because you met her other times.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Oh.
Q. When see her, is it a nightmare?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, you know, she’s not a favorite amongst the tour, but, you know, I was like I don’t know. Was she the one that did my US Open last match last year?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I just really had a flashback there. (Laughter.)
Interference, replay the point, and I said, (demonstrating with hands up). Same thing what happened to me in New York. I mean, hello, you know. She didn’t give me that opportunity, though. She was just like, Interference, point penalty.
So I don’t know.
Q. I’m still sort of processing this. We have seen you come into some big tournaments where you’re coming off injuries or you haven’t had a lot of matches, but how are you going to process this and sort of move on? It’s got to be pretty disappointing.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, it is disappointing. But it’s life. Things could be a lot worse. I haven’t had the easiest past six months. Nothing I can’t deal with.
Q. Similar question. You had such good clay court season. You’ve just come off a really tough loss. Can you try and put it in perspective in terms of your hopes for Roland Garros and the clay season?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. I have to put it in perspective. My Roland Garros so happens to be over.
So, you know, I’m in mixed doubles, so hopefully I can do better, win a match in that event.
So, yeah. Did I answer your question?
Q. Sort of. So you still have high hopes for the rest of the summer, I presume?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Well, yeah. I’ve just got to, you know, go back and it’s the same thing. You know, just figure out what I did wrong and not do it again, you know, learn from it. I think that’s the best thing I can do.
Q. With what he said, maybe five, six, seven years ago, maybe a few years ago you would take losses a lot tougher moodwise? You seem to have a lot more perspective. Talk about that and why.
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah. You know, I’ve been through so much in my life, and yeah. I’m not here I’m not happy, by no means. I just always think things can be worse.
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