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No deja-vu in Paris for Venus Williams after shock first round exit

Published: Updated:

What Venus Williams would have given for a dash of deja-vu in Paris on Sunday.

The same Grand Slam tournament, the same opening round, the same opponent as last year, but at Roland Garros this year the American slumped out 6-4 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang.

The loss marked the first time 2002 runner-up Williams has lost her opening match here since 2001, and the only time in her career she has lost consecutive Grand Slam opening round matches.

“There really are no perfect days in tennis, so...” the 37-year-old mused enigmatically. “At this point I have just got to look forward.

“I just want to be my best, that is all... nobody plans on this.”

If Sunday’s result marked a low point for Venus, it represented the best win of Wang’s career, and one for which she was good value.

Wang might have been forgiven for rolling her eyes when the draw was made on Thursday, having been beaten by Williams both here and at Wimbledon in their only previous meetings.

But the 26-year-old set about her task with enthusiasm on a sun-bathed Court Suzanne Lenglen, never allowing her rangy opponent to settle.

Compact and busy, Wang looked to be putting more effort in every ball than Williams with her long fluid shots and languid movement.

And on a hot day which had both players glistening with sweat by the end of the opening game such differences can count double.