The Norman Transcript

National Sports

May 27, 2013

Early Exit for Williams

(Continued)

PARIS —

In an intriguing encounter filled with momentum swings, No. 15 Gilles Simon of France overcame a two-set deficit for the first time in his career to edge two-time major champion Lleyton Hewitt 3-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-5.

The 32-year-old Hewitt, who won the U.S. Open in 2001 and Wimbledon in 2002, was asked Sunday whether he’ll be back at the French Open and replied: “Don’t know. Haven’t even thought about it.”

A similar question was put to Venus, who sounded bothered by the topic.

“If it’s the last match, I’ll let you know,” she answered. “That’s pretty much how it works.”

The Williams sisters completely changed the way women’s tennis was played in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with 120 mph serves, stinging forehands and fantastic court coverage. They faced each other in eight Grand Slam finals, including the 2002 French Open, which Serena won.

Neither Williams has enjoyed much success in Paris after that championship match, where the clay tends to dull the strength of their swings and the footing can give them problems. Venus hasn’t been past the quarterfinals since 2002, while Serena hasn’t since 2003.

“I just keep trying, and it hasn’t been working out for me,” Serena, who is ranked and seeded No. 1, said after stretching her career-best winning streak to 25 matches. “I may have gotten nervous in the past or may have basically choked a few matches away.”

She won the first nine games against Tatishvili, and 30 of the first 37 points. On her serve, the final count was 28 of 33 points, bolstered by eight aces.

“I’ve played a lot of players who have very good serves, but hers is consistently good, so you always feel pressure when you’re returning,” Tatishvili said. “I wasn’t really surprised, because I’ve watched her so much, you know? It’s Serena Williams; you watch her always on TV or at tournaments. But it’s the first time I felt what I had seen.”

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