Serena Williams lost a first-round Grand Slam match for the first time in her career on Tuesday, blowing a 5-1 lead in a second-set tiebreak, dissolving into tears and melting down early in a dramatic third set against lightly regarded Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano. The 13-time major champion was an undefeated 17-0 on clay this year and entered Roland Garros as the prohibitive favorite.
Following her second-set meltdown, Williams lost 22 of the next 24 points and the first five games of the third set. She put together a brief comeback and had multiple chances to get back on serve in a marathon 23-minute game. But in the 12th deuce, Williams finally hit a ball long on Razzano's eighth match point and fell 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3.
Razzano was ranked No. 111 entering the tournament. Her win goes down as one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history.
[Video: Serena cries after tiebreaker]
She stole a second-set tiebreak after a bizarre run of points that began when Williams stopped playing during play at 5-2. Williams thought the ball was long and held up instead of hitting an easy forehand. Chair umpire Eva Asderaki, who infamously clashed with Williams at the 2011 U.S. Open, came down to the court and ruled the ball in. Williams wouldn't win another point in the tiebreaker.
During the changeover between sets, Williams broke down into tears, angrily talking to herself and blowing into a tissue. She came out uninspired in the third and dropped the first five games before battling back to make it 5-3.
A 23-minute game ensued. Williams had five break-point chances and Razzano failed to convert seven match points. The Frenchwoman was noticeably tight on each of her opportunities to win the match, sending double faults sputtering into the bottom of the net and sailing easy groundstrokes two-feet long. For as shaky as she was on match points, she was just as solid at deuce. When Serena finally hit an unforced error on the eighth match point -- which appropriately had to be checked by Asderaki -- Razzano finally prevailed.
Last year, Razzano played at her home tournament with a heavy heart. Eight days before the tournament, her fiancee and coach Stephane Vidal died after a battle with cancer. He told her before he died that he wanted her to play Roland Garros in his honor. She lost in the first round.
"I'm sure he's very happy today," Razzano said after the win.
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