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Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Virginie Razzano stuns Serena Williams in three-set thriller at Roland Garros

It might not seem like a big deal, but there's so much more to the story than the headline suggests.

And it's little wonder that the French sports pages are buzzing and the media is reporting the exploits of France's Virginie Razzano in the first round of this year's Roland Garros tournament.

Virginie Razzano (screenshot YouTube video)

Well first up of course there's the fact that Razzano - currently ranked 111 in the world - beat former number one and the 2002 winner Serena Williams.

No mean feat in itself as Williams was seeded fifth in this year's tournament and had never lost a first round match before in any of the four majors.

It was also the manner in which the 29-year-old Razzano beat her opponent, turning her game around from the brink of defeat.

At 1-5 down in the second set tie-break, after having lost the first set 4-6, the game pretty much seemed lost for Razzano.

But as often happens in tennis, Razzano rallied (sorry) taking the next six points to win the tie-break and the set.

More was to come in the final set though as Razzano clearly on a roll, raced to 5-0 lead, had three games taken off her by Williams and then needed eight match points to seal victory.

Remarkable stuff for both those lucky enough to be among the crowd at the Court Philippe Chatrier and those following the game on telly; three hours and three minutes of great sport.

But wait.

There's more.

Because Razzano's victory provided the starkest of contrasts to her first round match at last year's Roland Garros.

Just a week before the 2011 tournament, Razzano had lost her coach and fiancé Stéphane Vidal.

The pair had been together for nine years and shortly before he died, Vidal, who had a brain tumour, had made Razzano promise that she would play in Paris to "honour him".

Although she lost in her first round match, the press conference after the game was probably one of the most moving moments of the two weeks and led Europe 1 sports journalist Christophe Lamarre to describe how touched those present had been by the dignity and courage shown by Razzano.

Asked (a daft sports reporter's question) on Tuesday after beating Williams, whether the win was some sort of "sign of destiny" Razzano preferred a level-headed answer.

"Is it fate? I don't know," she said.

"What's certain is I wanted to win this match," she added.

"Honestly though, the past is the past. I've mourned and now I'm ready to move forward with my life. It took some time. But today I feel good."

Razzano's second round opponent will be 22-year-old Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands.

Even if you're not that keen on tennis, you'll surely feel the tension in the two accompanying videos of the last game of the match.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I watched the match yesterday. It was perhaps not the best quality tennis, but what the game lacked in technical prowess was clearly compensated by the emotional intensity of the battle between these two girls.


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