It was all going according to the script. Serena Williams was two points from a routine, if hard fought, first-round victory over No. 111 Virginie Razzano at the French Open. The tournament favorite was on the verge of her 47th-straight opening-round win at a major and setting course for her second title at Roland Garros. Then she unraveled.
Serena's bizarre collapse began with a lunging backhand return and ended one hour, numerous tears and countless missed opportunities later. She was serving at 5-2 and sent Razzano stabbing at a return. The high backhand arced softly toward the baseline for a waiting Serena. And that's when the drama began:
Serena willingly stopped the point, only to have umpire Eva Asderaki, the woman who called the infamous hindrance in last year's US Open final, come down from the chair to overrule it. Though Serena seemed to agree with the call and showed little outward sign of emotion after, it clearly had an effect. She would drop the rest of the points in the tiebreak, spent the changeover crying and lost the first seven points of the decisive set. By the time she regained her composure, Razzano had too big a lead. Not even battling back to 5-3 and saving seven match points could prevent Serena Williams from the earliest Grand Slam exit of her career.