Venus Williams refuses to retire after first round defeat in French Open

Williams crashes out in first round, but says she will try to fix her serve for Wimbledon

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 3:24am


Seven-time grand slam champion Venus Williams insisted that retirement is not on her agenda despite suffering her earliest French Open exit in 12 years.

The 32-year-old American slumped to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (4/7), 6-4 loss to Poland's Urszula Radwanska, 10 years her junior, in the first round on Sunday.

It was her worst result since losing to Barbara Schett at the same stage in 2001.

Troubled by a back injury in recent weeks, the 30th-seeded American had mounted a stirring comeback in the second set tiebreak, clawing her way from 0/4 down to reel off seven points in succession.

But the effort was too much as Radwanska, the younger sister of world No4 Agnieszka, took the tie on a second match point.

Williams, who lost to Agnieszka in the second round in Paris last year, believes that if she can quickly cure her back ailment - which has slammed the brakes on her service action - she can still confound the doubters.

"My strategy was more or less to put the ball in, and that's very difficult for me because that's not who I am. But that's all I had.

"So that was challenging, to be conservative on the serve and then go to be aggressive during the point," she explained.

"It changes your mindset. That's a little challenging. I want my serve back. I'm going to try to get it back for Wimbledon."

Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion, believes she still has a role to play on the courts, if not as a winner any more then as a role model to other sufferers of Sjogren's syndrome, the illness that kept her off tour for seven months between 2011 and 2012.

"What I've gone through, it's not easy. But I'm strong and I'm a fighter. I don't think I'm just playing for me now. I think I'm playing for a lot of people who haven't felt well," she said.

"I would never give up because obviously, at some point, everyone has to retire. You know, that's an asterisk, but I feel like I have to give myself a chance to continue working on feeling better.

"I wouldn't just give up just because it was difficult. I'm going to continue trying. I had a very challenging year last year, but I had many successes, as well. So I'm continuing to look forward to more successes."

And after 16 appearances at the French Open, where her best result remains her runner-up spot to sister Serena in 2002, was Sunday's three hour 19-minute marathon the last time she will make it to Roland Garros?

"If it's the last match at Roland Garros, I'll let you know. That's pretty much how it works," said the defiant American.