Belfast Telegraph

French Open: Venus joins Serena through exit door

By Eleanor Crooks

Venus Williams joined sister Serena in making an early exit from the French Open as she crashed out to third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.

Roland Garros was still abuzz with Virginie Razzano's stunning victory over the title favourite, handing Serena her first ever defeat in the opening round of a grand slam.

Venus' 6-2 6-3 loss was certainly not in the same category, indeed it would have been a shock had she won given her health problems, lack of match action and the fact the match was being played on clay. Even at Venus' best, Radwanska would have been a big obstacle. The 23-year-old has enjoyed a terrific 2012 so far, winning titles in Dubai, Miami and Brussels, and is rightly considered a real contender here.

Venus was playing her first grand slam since pulling out of the US Open last summer following a diagnosis of the auto-immune condition Sjogren's Syndrome.

She made no attempt to hide the fact she is still struggling physically, but felt she had achieved her objectives here, with her first-round victory almost certainly guaranteeing her qualification for the Olympics in London.

Reflecting on the match, the 31-year-old American said: “I felt like I played. That pretty much sums it up. This tournament for me was all about getting to the Olympics. If that happens for me, I think the chances are good, then I come out a victor. She played really well.” Williams has three Olympic gold medals, one in singles and two in doubles, and is set to defend the women's doubles title she won four years ago with Serena in Beijing. She said: “The ultimate dream for me would be to be able to play both. I have to see and see what I'm selected for.”

The American remains upbeat despite her health problems, saying: “I'm still playing professional sport, so I have to be very positive.

“And I'm going to have ups and downs. I haven't gotten to the ‘Why me?’ stage yet. I hope I never get there.”

Top seed Victoria Azarenka trounced German qualifier Dinah Pfizenmaier 6-1 6-1 and next meets Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak.

But eighth seed and home favourite Marion Bartoli crashed out. The Frenchwoman looked to have recovered after going a set and a break down to Petra Martic, but it was the Croatian who edged the decider to triumph 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Sixth seed and 2010 finalist Sam Stosur beat American youngster Irina Falconi 6-1 6-4. Ana Ivanovic breezed past Shahar Peer 6-2 6-2 while Svetlana Kuznetsova had a tougher time against Chan Yung-jan before coming through 6-4 7-6 (7/4).

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