World number one and defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne has admitted to rushing her comeback from glandular fever after crashing out of the French Open.
The 21-year-old Belgian was defeated 7-5 6-4 at the second round stage by Italy’s Tathiana Garbin and appeared to be suffering from a lack of fitness caused by the illness which she contracted in April.
Garbin, to her credit, took full advantage to seal her place in the next round, where she will face China’s Jie Zheng.
Henin-Hardenne has won three of the last four Grand Slams but came to Paris as something of an outsider following her recent spell of inactivity.
Although there was relatively little pressure on her, she could not hide disappointment at such an early exit.
“It was probably too soon for me but I had to come back one day,” she said.
“Now I know where I am physically but I have no regrets to have tried.
“My goals were too high and my abilities were too low, that’s probably the mistake I made.”
“I don’t want to find any excuses. My disease was not the only reason.”
Despite visibly struggling with her health, Henin-Hardenne insisted she had no intention of missing Wimbledon, where she reached the final in 2001.
French favourite Amelie Mauresmo also came close to elimination but found enough inner strength to get past the injury-stricken Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues.
Mauresmo, who came into the tournament as one of the favourites after wins in Berlin and Rome, triumphed 6-0 4-6 6-1 in just under two hours.
Three more seeds bowed out on Wednesday.
Zheng beat Emilie Loit, the 31st seed, 6-4 6-1; Meghann Shaughnessy overcame 15th seed Silvia Farina Elia after a titanic 6-3 3-6 9-7 struggle; and American Lisa Raymond, seeded 28th, crashed to a 6-4 6-0 defeat at the hands of Arantxa Parra Santonja.