Serena Williams may be a 15-time Grand Slam singles champion, but her first-round victory over Anna Tatishvili on Sunday at the French Open was significant.
Williams suffered her only first-round loss in a Grand Slam tournament last year at Roland Garros, dropping a three-set match to French wild-card opponent Virginie Razzano.
Don't think she hasn't been mulling over that loss either.
That was evident in the 6-0, 6-1 beatdown at Philippe Chatrier Court on Sunday. Williams posted eight aces and 27 winners along the way, via RolandGarros.com. She won 73 percent of first-serve points, 88 percent of second-serve points and 62 percent of return points.
The 2002 French Open champion said after the win, via the New York Times: “Obviously it’s been a good year, but like I can say from last year, you never really know what’s going to happen or what can happen."
Pam Shriver was more blunt, via the New York Times report:
I think she’s thought about it every day. I think she was very prideful of that record, having never lost in the first round, and the way it happened, with the French crowd and a French player, was, I think, particularly difficult. I think for her, it had a little of the same taste as losing to Maria Sharapova in the ’04 Wimbledon final.
While Williams did win the French Open in 2002, she hasn't reached the final here since her title. The French Open has historically been her toughest challenge of the four Grand Slams. She's won each of the other Grand Slams at least four times. Call her the women's version of Roger Federer.
Tatishvili may have been the No. 74 player in the world headed into Roland Garros. Williams may have been 36-2 with five singles titles this year. But, make no mistake about it, the victory over Tatishvili was a huge monkey off Williams' back. All-time greats like Williams take defeats personally, especially in the early rounds of a Grand Slam tournament.
Williams, now 31 years old, still feels like she has plenty to accomplish, even after her historic achievements of yore. Such is the mindset of a legend who can't count the number of her Grand Slam victories on her fingers.