by Randy Walker
Not since her very first match as a professional on October 29, 1995 had Serena Williams lost a match in a more convincing fashion that she did Wednesday in the second round of the French Open.
The world No. 1 and defending tournament champion was dismissed in the second round at Roland Garros – winning only four games – losing to No. 35-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-2, 6-2.
Williams, described throughout the match as “flat” by ESPN2 commentators Pam Shriver and Mary Joe Fernandez (also her Fed Cup and Olympic coach) as she virtually gave away the match – committed 29 unforced errors (a player only technically needs to win 28 points to win a two-set match with no deuces). Regarded as the greatest server in the history of women’s tennis, Williams made a mediocre 67 percent of her first serves, but only won 55 percent of those points when she got her first ball in. On her second serve, she won only 27 percent of points, illustrating on her second,
“She left the car in the garage today,” said commentator Brad Gilbert on ESPN2. “She wasn’t getting her free points on her serve today. She looked puzzled.”
“She was flat and Muguruza took it to her,” said Patrick McEnroe, also on ESPN2.
Entering the match, Muguruza had a career record of 0-7 against top 8-ranked players with an 0-14 record in sets played in those seven matches.
The only time Serena Williams lost a pro match by a worse scoreline came in her pro debut in the first round of qualifying of the Bell Challenge in Quebec when she lost 6-1, 6-1 to American Anenie Miller, as excerpted below in the book, digital download and mobile app “This Day in Tennis History” available at www.TennisHistoryApp.com
October 29, 1995 – Fourteen-year-old future world No. 1 Serena Williams makes an auspicious, humbling professional debut, losing in the first round of qualifying of the Bell Challenge in Quebec City, Canada to 18-year-old, Anne Miller 6-1, 6-1. The match is played at Club Advantage, a private tennis club in Quebec with little fanfare. Writes Robin Finn of the New York Times, ”Instead of a stadium showcase, she competed on a regulation practice court at a tennis club in suburban Vanier, side by side with another qualifying match. There were no spotlights, no introductions, not even any fans. Her court was set a level below a smoky lounge that held a bar, a big-screen television, an ice cream cart and 50 or so onlookers with varying stages of interest in her fate.” Says Williams, “I felt bad out there because I lost. I didn’t play like I meant to play. I played kind of like an amateur.” Says Miller, “I guess I played a celebrity…She has as much power as anybody around, but maybe she needs to play some junior events the way Anna Kournikova has to learn how to become match-tough. There really is no substitute for the real thing. I felt like a complete veteran compared to her.”