PARIS — Serena Williams crashed to the worst Grand Slam defeat of her career on Tuesday when she slumped to a dramatic and thrilling 4-6, 7-6, (7/5), 6-3 French Open loss to France’s world number 111 Virginie Razzano. It was the 30-year-old American’s first ever exit at the opening round stage of her 47-event Grand Slam career and her earliest loss at a major since she was knocked out of the Australian Open second round by sister Venus in 1998. On a night of unbearable tension on the Philippe Chatrier Court, Williams saved seven match points in the ninth game of the nerve-jangling decider. Williams had the late evening match in her hands when she led by a set and 5-1 in the second set tiebreak as she looked set for a routine win.
But Razzano, the darling of the Paris crowd after playing the 2011 French Open just days after the death of her fiancé from a brain tumour, then reeled off the next six points of the breaker to level the tie. Amid rising tension and emotion, Williams, a 13-time Grand Slam title winner, appeared to cry as she sat in her courtside chair ahead of the final set.