Thirteen: the number of consecutive points that Serena Williams lost Tuesday in the first round of the 2012 French Open. Williams lost six of those in the tie-break of the second set, and the first seven of the third set.
For years, people have said that Coria’s performance at Roland Garros in 2004 was the worst choke in French Open history. But after Tuesday, Serena takes the cake.
Let’s set the scene to Serena’s shutdown.
Williams was hot off a victory in Madrid and had won the last 17 matches, all on clay. Williams also boasted an impressive 46-0 record in the first round of every Grand Slam.
Now, it’s 46-1.
No. 5 Williams took the first set 6-4 over No. 111 Virginie Razzano of France, and it looked like she would get the second as well. Williams was up 5-1 in the tiebreaker of the second set, just two points away from moving on to the second round, when she had some serious neck restriction; she choked.
The crowd was cheering for Razzano, the hometown favorite who had lost her fiancé just eight days before the 2011 French Open, and apparently Williams didn’t like it. Although she didn’t say it out loud, her performance said it all.
After losing six consecutive points in the tiebreaker and the second set, Williams walked back to her chair, blew her nose and wiped her eyes. She walked back to the baseline, staring at her racket, praying for an answer. But her racket wasn’t saying anything.
Serena looked like a ghost during the third set. In the blink of an eye, she was down 5-0. Williams briefly rallied, pushing Razzano to 5-3.
But in a grueling 23-minute game, filled with 11 deuce points, eight of them match points for Razzano, Serena pounded the last nail into her own coffin. Williams was simply putting too much pace on her returns, and either dumped them straight into the net or sent them sailing way past the baseline.
Backed by the crowd, Razzano was able to finish off Williams, dotting the last period in the greatest choke performance in French Open history.