“When you’re playing a match, sometimes you don’t feel the pain,” Kozlova said afterward.
The red clay on Sunday claimed not only its young champion, but also its oldest woman in the draw, Venus Williams, who also attempted an overly aggressive game. There were dire indicators for the 37-year-old Williams, early on, that this was going to be a very long day and a very short tournament. She was broken in a marathon, 12-minute first game, when she netted an easy backhand. She struggled with her first serve in the first set while she bashed groundstrokes, impatiently, wide and long, hoping to end points too quickly against her quality opponent, Qiang Wang of China.
The end result on Suzanne Lenglen was a 6-4, 7-5 exit, marking the first time in Williams’s long career that she had been eliminated in the first round in back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments — at the Australian Open in January, and then here at Roland Garros.
Williams had defeated Wang in the first round of last year’s French Open. On Sunday, she appeared somewhat shellshocked in the post-match interview room, answering questions politely but in terse sentences, deflecting any inquiries about tactics or results.
“There are really no perfect days in tennis,” she said. “You have to be ready to play no matter what. I just want to be my best, that’s all. I like to think I win all my matches if I’m playing well.”
Asked how she might have played differently against Wang’s full-out assault, Williams declined to expand on the matter.
“Differently is win the point,” she said.
Her frustrated coach, David Witt, had some other ideas, however. He felt Williams was often too impatient.
“She’s got to be willing to grind five, six, seven strokes, decide at the right time when to go for it,” Witt said, afterward. “That girl (Wang) is not a clay-court player, either, so it doesn’t bode well for the person trying to hit winners all the time.