Serena Williams was dumped out in the first round of the French Open as unseeded home hope Virginie Razzano served up one of the biggest shocks in Roland Garros history.
Razzano, the world number 111, defeated the fifth seed and 13-time grand slam winner 4-6 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 in an epic tussle that lasted three hours and three minutes.
Williams’ first ever defeat in the opening round of a grand slam event came amid occasionally controversial scenes on Court Philippe Chatrier, with Razzano twice penalised for “hindrance” after crying out in pain during points as she laboured with a leg injury – much to the annoyance of her many supporters.
Razzano finally prevailed in a 23-minute, 13-deuce final game, the 29-year-old converting match point at the eighth time of asking.
Pre-tournament favourite Williams looked shaky in the first set as she dropped two service games on her way to a 2-4 deficit, but the American recovered to win four in a row to take the early initiative in the match.
Razzano, a two-time winner on the WTA Tour, stopped the rot when she levelled at 1-1 in the second, and the two held the rest of the way to a tie-break.
Williams appeared in cruise mode as she raced into a 4-0 lead in the tie-breaker, but little by little she allowed Razzano back in and when the Frenchwoman reeled off five points on the trot she took the set and levelled the match.
Williams’ capitulation in the tie-breaker appeared to affect her at the start of the deciding set as Razzano raced away to a 5-0 lead.
The former world number one, whose one and only Roland Garros triumph came a decade ago, finally held her service to trail 1-5 and broke in the next to trigger hopes of an unlikely fightback.
Another hold brought Williams to 3-5, with Razzano looking in danger of throwing her big chance away as the cramping in her legs appeared to intensify,
Razzano was faced with a much improved Williams as she tried to close out the match, the American pulling out some wonderful shots to fend off seven match points, but on the eighth Williams fired long to hand Razzano the biggest win of her career.