Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Venus falls fast on clay

Venus Williams screams after missing a return during her first-round loss against Poland’s Urszula Radwanska.

Associated Press

Venus Williams screams after missing a return during her first-round loss against Poland’s Urszula Radwanska.

PARIS — Grimacing after some poor shots, leaning forward with hands on knees while catching her breath after others, Venus Williams left the French Open after the first round for the first time since 2001.

Williams, 32, is a seven-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player seeded 30th at Roland Garros. But Sunday, she felt hampered by a bad back, had problems with her serve — all sorts of strokes, actually — and lost 7-6 (7-5), 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 to 40th-ranked Urszula Radwanska of Poland.

Inflammation in her lower back limited Williams to two matches over 1½ months, preparation she called, with a chuckle, "extremely un-ideal."

"I can't really serve very hard. It's painful when I do that. But I'm getting better. I just, you know, ran out of time to get better for this tournament," said Williams, broken on 11 of her 17 service games. "My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that's very difficult for me, too, because that's not who I am. But that's all I had."

Last year she lost in the second round at Roland Garros to Radwanska's older sister, Agnieszka.

"Yeah, of course, I was talking with Aga about Venus," said Urszula, who never has been past the second round of a major. "I was well-prepared for this match, and I knew she was a great fighter, so I should be focused the whole match."

Williams' sister Serena made a fluent return to the Parisian clay, overwhelming Anna Tatishvili 6-0, 6-1 — then addressing an appreciative audience at Court Philippe Chatrier in French.

Magnifique!

"I have been speaking French for years and years, but I don't really have a lot of confidence," Serena said later, in English. "It's way, way more nerve-racking than playing tennis."

The only other seeded player ousted on Day 1 was No. 11 Nadia Petrova, who lost 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 to Monica Puig.

On the men's side, 17-time major champion Roger Federer won 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 over Pablo Carreno Busta, who made his Grand Slam debut. No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 14 Milos Raonic and American Sam Querrey, the No. 18 seed, also advanced.

In an encounter filled with momentum swings, No. 15 Gilles Simon of France overcame a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to edge Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5.

Hewitt, 32, was asked whether he'll be back at the French Open and replied, "Don't know. Haven't even thought about it."

A similar question was put to Venus Williams after her match lasted 3 hours, 19 minutes. She sounded bothered by the topic.

"If it's the last match, I'll let you know," she answered. "That's pretty much how it works."

>>Key Matches

Today

Men: Rafael Nadal (3) vs. Daniel Brands; Tomas Berdych (5) vs. Gael Monfils; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6) vs. Aljaz Bedene

Women: Maria Sharapova (2) vs. Hsieh Su-wei; Agnieszka Radwanska (4) vs. Shahar Peer; Caroline Wozniacki (10) vs. Laura Robson

TV: 5 a.m., ESPN2; 10, Tennis; noon, Ch. 8

Venus falls fast on clay 05/26/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 26, 2013 9:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: Zim's legacy felt on bunt play

    Blogs

     

  2. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  3. Rays journal: Blake Snell continues roll in win over Cubs (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was still a game in the fifth inning when LHP Blake Snell walked the leadoff batter, then allowed a single. One swing by the Cubs' Ian Happ (22 home runs) could put a dent in the Rays' three-run lead.

    Blake Snell allows just two hits in pitching seven scoreless innings.
  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Cubs game

    The Heater

    One success story of this lost season is the emergence of LHP Blake Snell as the frontline starter the Rays projected. After a rough start and two demotions, he has been rolling, Wednesday's solid seven innings making him 4-0, 2.57 in his past eight starts.