French Open: Venus Williams, ousted by Elina Svitolina, suffers 4th 1st-round loss in 7 years

Cassandra Negley
Venus Williams of the U.S. uses a towel during her first round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Sunday, May 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Venus Williams has struggled at the French Open in recent years. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The 2019 French Open began with an upset and shortly later saw another high-profile women’s tournament player get the ouster.

No. 9 ranked Elina Svitolina took down Venus Williams during the first round at Roland-Garros on Sunday shortly after three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber lost to 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova.

On the men’s side, Roger Federer won his first French Open match since 2015.

Svitolina defeats Venus Williams in 1st round

Svitolina moved into the second round by defeating Williams, 6-3, 6-3. She won four of the six breaks over the final seven games of the first match, then came back from a 3-1 deficit in the second match.

Williams is a seven-time Grand Slam champion but is currently ranked 52nd. It’s the fourth first-round loss in the last seven years on the clay court for the 38-year-old, per the Associated Press.

Svitolina is writing columns for the BBC Sport website throughout the French Open and shared in her first post what it’s like to draw Williams in the first round. She called it one of the toughest draws she could have received and praised Venus and her sister, Serena, for what they’ve done for tennis.

“I have played her a couple of times, and Serena as well, and as I know a little more about this experience, I'm more relaxed and focusing on what I'm doing and what is in my power.

“You have to be ready mentally and physically when you're playing one of the world's greats.”

It was Svitolina’s first clay win of the season and she’s still battling a knee injury suffered in the Dubai Tennis Championships semifinals. She wrote for the BBC the French Open is her favorite Slam, so she and her team worked to make sure she was at least 80 percent ready. She said every match is like a final because of it.

She will be up against Kateryna Kozlova in the next round.

Federer wins in 1st French Open since ’15

Roger Federer made his much-anticipated return to Roland-Garros with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win over Lorenzo Sonego. Sonego was making his debut at the French Open against the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

Federer missed the 2016 tournament will a back injury. He skipped the proceeding two years to focus on Wimbledon. It’s the 10-year anniversary of the French Open victory that secured him a career Grand Slam.

"I missed you; thanks very much for the welcome," Federer told the crowd afterward, per ESPN. "I was quite tense at the start."

The 37-year-old was forced to withdraw from the Italian Open a few weeks ago with pain in his right leg. It’s presumed he hurt it while sliding on a wet baseline.

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