PARIS (AP) — Venus Williams and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko are out of the French Open on the opening day.
Williams, the 2002 runner-up and ninth-seeded American, lost 6-4, 7-5 to Wang Qiang of China in the first round on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday.
Wang avenged her loss to Williams in the first round at Roland Garros last year. The 85th-ranked player was also beaten by Williams at Wimbledon a few weeks later and had never beaten Williams before Sunday.
It’s the fourth time Williams exits the French Open in the first round in 21 appearances. She also lost in the first round at the Australian Open in January.
The Latvian Ostapenko, whose 2017 title at Roland Garros was her first on the WTA Tour, was bounced by Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova 7-5, 6-3. She became the second French Open women’s champion to lose in the first round the following year after Russian Anastasia Myskina in 2005.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens needed less than an hour to move into the second round.
The 10th-seeded Stephens advanced with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands. It was Stephens’ first win at a Grand Slam tournament since claiming her first major title in New York last September.
“I tried to do way more than I should have after the U.S. Open, and I should have just shut it down,” Stephens said when asked about her poor recent results. “My heart was there but my body wasn’t. So when the two things aren’t connected, it’s never a good thing.”
The American, who lost in the first round at the Australian Open in January, hit 17 winners and spent just 49 minutes on court on Day 1 in Paris. Rus was in the first round as a “lucky loser.”
On a sunny and warm day, Stephens was joined in the second round by fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who defeated Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-5, 6-3 after recovering from a 5-1 deficit in the opening set.
In the men’s draw, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov found out about his opponent around 30 minutes before stepping onto Court Philippe Chatrier but had no problem adapting to the situation.
Dimitrov, a semifinalist at Monte Carlo this season, was slated to play Viktor Troicki but instead faced Mohamed Safwat of Egypt because Troicki withdrew with pain in his back. Dimitrov hit 31 winners and prevailed 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (1).
“I just needed, like, five, ten minutes to disconnect from what I had in mind to play and what I wanted to do and kind of look at the few videos of the way he was playing,” Dimitrov said. “After that, I just had to go out and do the best that I can. I think it was a good start.”
Safwat, the first Egyptian man to compete at a Grand Slam since Tamer El Sawy at the 1996 US Open, was cheered off the court.
Gael Monfils, one of six Frenchmen in action on Sunday, overcame a slow start and an upset stomach and headache to advance by defeating compatriot and wild card Elliot Benchetrit. Monfils won 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.
“I was stressed and even sick at the beginning,” Monfils said. “Then experience played in my favor.”
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FRENCH OPEN: TV/Stream Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw (PDF) | Women’s Draw