PARIS: Defending women’s champion Serena Williams was knocked out of the second round of tennis’s French Open by Garbine Muguruza, her earliest defeat in a major in two years.
The top-seeded Williams of the U.S. lost to the 35th-ranked Spaniard, 6-2, 6-2 on the Court Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros in Paris. Her sister, Venus Williams, was upset earlier in the day.
“I didn’t expect that, but I played very, very good,” Muguruza, 20, said in a court-side interview. “I’m very happy.”
She added she’d gone into the match trying to be as aggressive as she could. “I have a big opportunity now,” she said. “Today is a great day.”
Williams struggled with her movement from the start, losing the first set after 32 minutes with her ninth unforced error.
In the second set, Williams quickly trailed 0-3 as she continued to struggle to keep the ball inside the lines and hold serve. Shaking her head between points, Williams failed to convert a break point in the next game as her backhand from Muguruza’s drop shot went long.
Watched by her mother, Oracene Price, and coach Patrick Mouratoglou, Williams did take the second break point as Muguruza hit a forehand long.
“That’s absurd,” Williams said to herself after producing a double fault as she trailed 1-3. “Please stay focused,” she told herself after another double fault handed her opponent three breakpoints.
A mis-hit backhand that sailed meters wide after a long rally handed Muguruza another break to lead 4-1. Serving for the win, Muguruza didn’t waver, converting her first match point as Williams netted a forehand return.
“It was one of those days, you can’t be on every day,” Williams told reporters. “I don’t think anything worked for me today.”
Earlier today, Serena’s older sister and seven-time major singles champion Venus also lost her second-round match, to Slovak teenager Anna Schmiedlova. Serena and Venus had been scheduled to meet in the third round.
It was Serena’s earliest defeat in one of the sport’s four majors since the 32-year-old player was upset in the first round of the 2012 French Open by then 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano. Williams has won 17 major singles titles, one shy of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.
That defeat, her first ever in the opening round of a major, triggered a rise back to the top for the American. After hiring Mouratoglou, Williams won four more majors, Olympic singles and doubles gold and became the oldest woman to occupy the top spot on the women’s WTA rankings.
The French Open’s slow, high-bouncing red clay surface has been the most difficult to crack for Williams because it neutralizes her powerful serve and ground strokes and gives opponents more time to react. Having grown up on U.S. hard courts, with the help of Mouratoglou she has adapted her game on clay by sliding into her shots more, playing more angles and being more patient.
Williams won her second French Open title last year by dethroning champion Maria Sharapova in the final. That victory came 11 years after Williams won her first Roland Garros championship, when she beat Venus in the final.