PARIS — Grimacing after some poor shots, leaning over with hands on knees while catching her breath after others, Venus Williams left the French Open after the first round for the first time since 2001.
Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion seeded 30th, lost 7-6 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-4 Sunday to 40th-ranked Urszula Radwanska of Poland, who never has been past the second round of a major tournament.
The quick exit for Williams, who was broken 11 of the 17 times she served, came a year after she lost in the second round at Roland Garros to Radwanska’s older sister, Agnieszka, the 2012 Wimbledon runner-up.
Williams’ younger sister Serena made a fluent return to the clay-court major tournament in the early afternoon Sunday, overwhelming 74th-ranked Anna Tatishvili 6-0, 6-1
With shadows creeping across the court in the early evening, Venus had a much tougher time against Urszula, who is far-less-accomplished than Agnieszka, the French Open’s fourth seed.
Venus was one of two seeded players — men or women — to lose on Day 1: Monica Puig of Puerto Rico surprised No. 11 Nadia Petrova of Russia 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Otherwise, results went to form, with 17-time major champion Roger Federer picking up a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory against a guy making his Grand Slam debut, Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain, while No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 14 Milos Raonic of Canada and No. 18 Sam Querrey of the United Sates also were among the winners.
Venus, 32 and still learning to live with an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, has two first-round losses in the past four Grand Slam tournaments. Her defeat at Wimbledon last June was the first time she’d left a major championship that early since she lost in the first round of the Australian Open 61/2 years earlier.
In a sign of the way things would develop, Venus was broken at love in the first game.