Serena stays positive after defeat
Serena Williams attempted to put a brave face on a stunning first-round defeat by Virginie Razzano at the French Open.
The 13-time grand slam champion had never lost in the first round of one of the sport's four biggest tournaments when she took to Court Philippe Chatrier against world number 111 Razzano.
But three hours and three minutes later, after a dramatic match of twists and turns and no little controversy, Williams walked off with the cheers of a delirious French crowd ringing in her ears.
The 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 victory was a wonderful moment for Razzano, who last year lost in the first round at Roland Garros eight days after the death of her fiance and coach Stephane Vidal from a brain tumour.
Williams, meanwhile, was back at the tournament for the first time since 2010 after missing last year as she recovered from the blood clots - a complication from a foot injury - that put her life in danger.
"It is disappointing, but it's life," said Williams, who has recently spoken about trauma in her love life.
"Things could be a lot worse. I haven't had the easiest past six months. It's nothing I can't deal with.
"I've just got to go back and just figure out what I did wrong and not do it again, learn from it. I think that's the best thing I can do.
"I've been through so much in my life. I'm not happy, by no means. I just always think things can be worse."
Williams struggled right from the start and had to come from a break down to win the first set. But she looked poised for victory when she led 5-1 in the second-set tie-break only for Razzano to reel off six successive points.
Umpire Eva Asderaki, who famously penalised Williams for hindrance - calling out during a point - in the US Open final last year, became a central figure.
First Williams left a shot she thought was out that was deemed to be on the baseline, then the umpire overruled a call as the American powered away what she thought was a winner, meaning the point had to be replayed.
Williams began to make a lot of errors and appeared to have lost her concentration at the start of the decider, which she only regained when she was 5-0 down.
An epic struggle played out, with a cramp-stricken Razzano twice being penalised by Asderaki for hindrance as she cried out in pain.
The odds appeared to be on the Frenchwoman not getting across the line but remarkably, in a 23-minute game and on her eighth match point, 29-year-old Razzano triumphed when Williams hit a backhand long.
The American fifth seed said: "I just started making a lot of errors. The whole match, I just didn't play at all the way I have been practising. I tried. I kept going for my shots, which always works for me. It didn't work out today."
Williams reserved some less than flattering words for Asderaki.
"She's not a favourite amongst the tour," said the 30-year-old, who suffered her first clay-court defeat in 18 matches this season.
"I just really had a flashback there. Interference, replay the point. The same thing that happened to me in New York."
Razzano insisted she always kept believing she could win, and she said of her emotions: "It's happiness, pure happiness. It's the most beautiful victory of my whole career, especially on the Philippe Chatrier court in front of the whole crowd."
The 29-year-old spoke briefly about the loss of Vidal, saying: "The past is the past. I think now I did my mourning. I feel good today.
"It took time. I also worked with someone who helped me make progress and helped me maybe start something else, something new. I felt I was ready to go ahead and live my life professionally and personally.
"I wanted to win that match. I wanted to give myself the chance of winning it. I went as far as I could, and I think I won it as a champion."
Razzano also disputed Asderaki's hindrance calls, adding: "Maybe the first one was okay, but the second one - it was not fair, because I did my best."
The match could not have been more of a contrast with the opener for another of the tournament's favourites, second seed Maria Sharapova, who trounced Romania's Alexandra Cadantu 6-0 6-0.
Fourth seed Petra Kvitova also raced into the second round with a 6-1 6-2 victory over 16-year-old Australian Ashleigh Barty in a battle of Wimbledon champion versus Junior Wimbledon winner.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, seeded ninth this year, was another easy winner, 6-0 6-1 over Eleni Daniilidou, while Italy's Francesca Schiavone, who won the title in 2010 and lost in the final last year to Li Na, beat 41-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-3 6-1.
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