Tennis-No excuse, says downcast Serena after first-round loss

Reuters

Tue, 29 May 21:55:00 2012

"There is no excuse," Serena Williams said simply, after losing in the first round of the French Open in her worst major-tournament performance of an outstanding career.

After 13 grand slam singles titles and spells totalling 123 weeks as world number one, the American was beaten 4-6 7-6 6-3 by Virginie Razzano, ranked 111 in the world, in front of the Frenchwoman's frenzied home crowd on Tuesday.

"I made so many errors today which is not the game that I have been playing in the past," said a subdued Williams, still a little out of breath after rushing from the court and straight into a news conference.

"I just didn't play at all the way I have been practising.

"I just felt I couldn't get a ball in play. When I did, I just felt like I was hitting late and, I mean, how can you hit late on a clay court?"

Offered the chance by one journalist to use her back as an excuse, after injury forced her to withdraw from the Italian Open this month, Williams shook her head.

"No, no, no, I didn't feel anything abnormal. I was 100 percent healthy," she said.

The American, who had made at least the second round in all her 46 previous grand slam appearances, became animated only when asked about Tuesday's umpire, Eva Asderaki, with whom she clashed during the U.S. Open final last year.

Williams was fined $2,000 after verbally abusing Asderaki during her shock loss to Australian Sam Stosur in New York.

On Tuesday, Asderaki punished Razzano for yelling "out" when the ball was still in play during the final game, bringing loud boos from the French crowd on the Philippe Chatrier court.

Asked how it felt to encounter the umpire again, Williams said: "Was she the one that did my U.S. Open last match last year? I just really had a flashback there."

The 30-year-old Williams, who suffered a season ravaged by injury last year, moved into philosophical mode before leaving the conference room to concentrate on just playing mixed doubles for the rest of this year's French Open.

"I've just got to go back and...figure out what I did wrong and not do it again, you know, learn from it," she said. "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."

 

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