Serena shocked by first-round exit

Serena Williams lost in the first round of a grand slam for the first time at Roland Garros. She was beaten in a three-set epic by Virginie Razzano, in a match marked by numerous errors and a courageous fightback by Razzano.

Razzano had been fighting cramp and was a set down and 5-1 down in the second set tiebreak when she rallied. She won that tie-break and stormed to a 5-0 lead in the third set, before faltering within sight of victory. Williams saved seven set points before Razzano eventually prevailed.

The match was given extra resonance because of Razzano’s personal history. Her fiancé and coach Stephane Vidal died from a brain tumour just before the 2011 French Open.

Williams, who had several disputes with the umpire during the match, sounded more than a little graceless in acknowledging her opponent’s struggles. "I know of her story . . . we all have stories," Williams said. "I mean, I almost died and Venus is struggling herself. So, you know, it's life. It just depends on how you deal with it. She obviously is dealing with it really well."

Razzano said that the victory was an important step in her emotional recovery. "Honestly, the past is the past," she said. "I think now I did my mourning. I feel good today. It took time. I felt I was ready to go ahead and live my life, professionally and personally. So is it destiny? Is it fate? I don't know. . . I just wanted to win that match."

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