PARIS: Serena Williams lost in the first round of a major tournament for the first time, falling to Virginie Razzano of France 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 Tuesday at the French Open.
The fifth-seeded Williams was two points from victory nine times in the second set, including leading 5-1 in the tiebreaker. But the 111th-ranked player won six consecutive points to force a third set, and then took control of the match.
“I made so many errors today, which isn’t the game I was playing in the past,” Williams said. “That’s life.”
Williams entered the day with a 46-0 record in first-round matches at Grand Slam tournaments. She had been looking for her 14th major title, and second at Roland Garros.
On clay this year, Williams was 17-0 heading into the match with two titles. But she pulled out of her last match in the semifinals of the Italian Open with a bad back.
“I didn’t feel anything abnormal,” Williams said Tuesday when asked about the injury. “I was 100 percent healthy.”
Razzano jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third set, but Williams won three consecutive games before what turned out to be an epic, 23-minute ninth game.
Williams had five break points in that final game.
“I was just thinking, if I can break here we’ll be back on serve,” Williams said. “You know, those are the kind of things that are going through your head.”
Razzano saved all five, however, and then converted her eighth match point to eliminate one of the tournament favorites.
“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.”
Razzano’s coach and fiance, Stephane Vidal, died about a week before last year’s French Open. Razzano played anyway, and lost in the first round.
Earlier, Rafael Nadal began his quest for a record seventh French Open title in style, wearing a pink shirt and pink shoelaces.
He won easily, too.
The second-seeded Spaniard had little trouble against Simone Bolelli of Italy, winning 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 on Court Philippe Chatrier — the same stadium where Nadal has won six of his 10 Grand Slam titles.
Nadal, who is tied with Bjorn Borg with six French Open titles, improved his record to 46-1 at Roland Garros. His only loss came in the fourth round in 2009, against Robin Soderling.
He’s not worried about the record just yet, though.
“We are in the second round,” Nadal said. “I have enough work to do thinking about the next round, and not think about if Bjorn will be here or if I’m going to play the final. That’s day-by-day and we’ll see.”
Against Bolelli, Nadal made only 18 unforced errors, fewer than half as many as his opponent. From 2-2 in the first set, Nadal won eight straight games to take control.
“I think I did what I had to do today,” Nadal said. “I played probably with less stress or nerves than in other first rounds in the past.”
Fourth-seeded Andy Murray also advanced, beating Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-1, 7-5, 6-0.
Maria Sharapova was nearly perfect in her match, winning all 12 games to produce a “double bagel.” And Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova advanced by beating junior Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty 6-1, 6-2.