Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sports

Williams sisters fall at French Open

PARIS — Wind was whipping, rain was falling, and thick gray clouds overhead were foreboding as Serena Williams double-faulted, then raised her hands in despair and wailed, "I can't serve!"

As if to prove the point, Williams double-faulted again moments later, before pushing a routine backhand wide to get broken at love.

Truth is, the French Open's defending champion couldn't do much on this particular afternoon, absorbing the most lopsided loss of her 288-match Grand Slam career. Unable to figure out how to get herself going or counter her unheralded opponent's aggressive game, Williams was beaten 6-2, 6-2 Wednesday by 35th-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the second round. "Nothing really worked," said Williams, whose older sister Venus also lost. "I don't know anything that actually worked."

Ever since last week's draw, there was talk about a possible all-Williams match in the third round, which would have been their first Grand Slam meeting since the 2009 Wimbledon final. Exactly one minute before Serena's match began on Court Suzanne Lenglen, the 29th-seeded Venus' 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 defeat against 56th-ranked Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia wrapped up in the main stadium. "I felt like this was a match that I was most likely going to win," Venus said. "I don't know how Serena felt, but I'm sure she feels like that every time she goes on the court. So I think our expectation was to play in the next round."

Instead of the 25th Williams vs. Williams encounter on tour, it'll be the 20-year-old Muguruza vs. 19-year-old Schmiedlova.

Serena's exit came a day after a loss by No. 2 Li Na, the first time in the Open era, which began in 1968, that the top two women were gone before the third round at any major.

"I was like, 'Oh, my God, I'm winning,' " Muguruza said, noting she grew up watching the 32-year-old Serena on TV. Since I was a child, I thought, 'Oh, I want to play against Serena on center court.' And today was the day. And I think I did very good."

Sure did.

Most striking of all was the brevity, 64 minutes.

Serena never before failed to win at least five games in a match at a major, but Muguruza regularly pounded serves topping 100 mph and held her own during baseline rallies. Serena had 29 unforced errors and only eight winners. "She played really smart," Serena said. "I didn't adapt."

Alize Cornet of France, seeded 20th, was surprised 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 by Taylor Townsend, 18, an American wild-card entry ranked 205th and making her Grand Slam debut.

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