On Monday, Venus Williams exited in the first round of the French Open after losing to fellow countrywoman, Sloane Stephens. This is the second time Venus has failed to get past this stage in the last three years. It was also the fifth time in the last thirteen Grand Slam competitions she’s participated that she has been sent home in the first round. Williams subsequently failed to show up for the mandatory news conference which means that she faces a fine.
As it happened
The match was touted as a Tuesday’s must-watch especially for the American fans. It started brightly with the two competitors exchanging booming groundstrokes on the court and producing a flurry of winners in the first set. At the end of the round, Stephens, ranked at no. 40 emerged the winner late in the set.
In the second set, Williams made 30 unforced errors compared to Stephens’ 14, allowing her younger compatriot to prevail in the set as well. The match ended in 90 minutes.
Key statistics of the match
Stephens won 76 percent of the first-serve points which was higher than Williams’ 63 percent. Stephens also belted 22 winners to the 21 by Williams. Overall, Stephens committed 19 errors compared to 30 by Venus. This was the first time the two have met in their careers. Stephens has now made it to the fourth round of the French Open for the last three consecutive years. On the other hand, Venus was the oldest player in the tournament at 34.
Venus snubs the media
It was obvious that Venus was disappointed after the loss, but few expected her to leave Roland Garros without addressing the media as is the norm. Instead of sitting for the mandatory press conference, Venus issued a five-sentence statement later on addressing her disappointment at leaving the tournament that early. A majority of the pundits have questioned her decision terming it as the most disappointing thing expected from a player hailed as the game’s great ambassador and an elder stateswoman. Besides, she had fought pretty hard especially in the first set with only a few mistakes in the second to blame for her loss.
Expectedly, the action is expected to earn her a fine although it will hardly be an amount enough put a dent in her otherwise humongous wallet.
Despite garnering the big win against Williams, Stephens emphasized after the match that she was not much concerned about the win and was aiming to proceed further into the tournament. She now joins Lindsay Davenport as the only two Americans to have beaten both Williams having defeated Serena in the 2013 Australian Open.