Paris – Venus Williams felt the chill of defeat in the French Open on Wednesday when she became the first seed to lose in the second round, falling 2-6 6-3 6-4 to Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia.
The 29th seed, wearing long sleeves to stay warm in temperatures of 14C, has never won the claycourt grand slam in 16 visits and the former world No , now 32, may have to accept she never will.
Schmiedlova, aged 19 and ranked 56 in the world, wasted two match points on Williams’s serve before the American hit wide to set up a third, and she won the match with a fine backhand cross court.
“This is the biggest win of my life,” said Schmiedlova, who broke down when expressing how much Venus had meant to her when she was growing up. “Now I want to beat the other one.”
The defeat spoiled the chances of a Williams family reunion in the third round, between Venus and her younger sister Serena, the world No 1 and defending champion.
Venus had got off to a solid start against Schmiedlova, winning four games in a row to take the opening set.
Her opponent, however, stepped up a gear and after an early exchange of breaks, stole the nine-times grand slam champion’s serve in the seventh game of the second set and levelled the contest when her opponent netted a forehand.
Schmiedlova pulled through thanks to a series of fine passing shots to set up a meeting with Serena, providing the American beats Spain’s Garbine Muguruza later on Wednesday.
Venus Williams was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in September 2011 and since losing in the fourth round of Wimbledon that year, has lost in the first or second round of every grand slam she has taken part in with the exception of the 2013 Australian Open, where she reached the third round.
Russian Mikhail Youzhny, the men’s 15th seed, joined her in heading for the exit when he lost 6-0 6-3 3-6 6-4 to Czech Radek Stepanek.
Eugenie Bouchard, the 18th seed, recovered from a slow start in chilly conditions to beat Julia Goerges of Germany in three sets, winning eight in a row to set up her winning position.
Goerges made the most of the Canadian’s early lethargy to break Bouchard’s serve in the third game and she took the first set when her opponent double-faulted.
But Bouchard began to move better and find her range, and she was soon chasing Goerges along the baseline with her accuracy and depth of shot.
After breaking for 3-2 in the second set, she did not lose another game until she served for the match as Goerges lost hope and accuracy, spraying the ball long and wide.
The German regained some pride by breaking back for 5-1 but the end was not long delayed and Bouchard won 2-6 6-2 6-1.
Gilles Simon, the 29th seed in the men's draw, eased past Alejandro Gonzales of Colombia 6-4 6-0 6-2. – Reuters