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Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt May 26, 2013
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PARIS---In the moments immedi-
ately following her stunningly early
exit from the 2012 French Open, as
her eyes welled with tears and she
bemoaned how she s "been through
so much in my life," Serena Williams
could not possibly find anything
positive to take from the experience.
How could she?
For the first---and, so far, only---
time in her career, Williams lost her
opening match at a Grand Slam tour-
nament. Not merely that, but a
woman many considered the favourite
to leave with the title lost to a woman
ranked 111th and with 20 first-round
losses in 46 previous major cham-
pionships. And, surely adding to her
disappointment, Williams lost after
having been two points from victory
against France s Virginie Razzano.
When the 31-year-old American
returns to Court Philippe Chatrier to
play Anna Tatishvili today---the
schedule for Day 1 of the 2013 French
Open also features Williams older
sister, 30th-seeded Venus, and 17-
time Grand Slam champion Roger
Federer---she will do so with a dif-
ferent understanding of what went
wrong 12 months ago, and even a bit
of appreciation for the disappointing
"Sometimes I think, Should I be
happy that I lost last year? You never
know what can happen in your career
and why things happen," said
Williams, who is ranked and seeded
No. 1 in singles and got a wild card
Saturday to play doubles with her
sister. "So it s been great for me just
realising that every match counts."
At that point she paused, perhaps
hearing her own words and what they
"I have always realised that,"
Williams continued, "but also real-
ising what I need to do to get better
and to stay on top and to be, you
know, the best tennis player that I
Rare is the professional athlete, no
matter the sport, who readily
acknowledges taking victory for
granted against a supposedly inferior
opponent. That, though, is what it
sounded like Williams was doing.
There are, to be sure, other expla-
nations for what she has done on the
court since that defeat: good health,
which her mother, Oracene Price,
calls the biggest single contributor to
Williams recent success; working
with a new coach, Patrick
Mouratoglou, who directed her train-
ing session Saturday on Court
Suzanne Lenglen; and what Williams
sums up as "really just staying relaxed
and calm" during matches.
But it certainly can t hurt to take
every match seriously, including
against players such as Tatishvili, who
is 2-10 this year, 0-2 at the French
Open for her career and never been
ranked better than 50th.
So now she is back at the French
Open, which she won in 2002, and
is playing as well as, or perhaps even
better than, ever. Williams is on a
24-match winning streak, part of a
36-2 record with a tour-leading five
titles this season. Since that loss to
Razzano, Williams is 67-3, including
championships at Wimbledon and
the US Open that boosted her career
haul to 15 Grand Slam titles.
With three more, Williams would
match Hall of Fame members Martina
Navratilova and Chris Evert at 18.
She leads the tour this season in
most significant serving categories:
227 aces, nearly 80 more than the
next-highest count; 85.4 per cent of
service games won; 75.7 per cent of
first-serve points won; 68.4 per cent
of break points saved.
Williams still seems to bring out
her most compelling tennis when
across the net from the game s other
top women: She is a combined 25-
4 for her career against current No.
2 Maria Sharapova, the French Open s
defending champion, and No. 3 Vic-
toria Azarenka. (AP)
Year later, Serena Williams
seeks more in Paris
Serena Williams, of the United
States, smiles during a press
conference for the French Open
tennis tournament, at Roland
Garros stadium in Paris, Friday.
Today: No 1 Serena Williams vs.
Anna Tatishvili, No 5 Sara Errani
vs. Arantxa Rus, No 14 Ana
Ivanovic vs. Petra Martic, No 30
Venus Williams vs. Urszula
Radwanska; No 2 Roger Federer
vs. Pablo Carreno Busta, No 4
David Ferrer vs. Marinko
Matosevic, No 15 Gilles Simon vs.
Lleyton Hewitt, No 18 Sam
Querrey vs. Lukas Lacko.
2012 Men's Singles Champion:
Rafael Nadal of Spain.
2012 Women's Singles
Champion: Maria Sharapova of
FRENCH OPEN GLANCE
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