Paris, May 29:
Hopes of a potential third-round clash between the Williams sisters faded away after both Venus and Serena made a second round exit at the French Open tennis going down to little-known opponents here Wednesday.
Defending champion Serena lost to Spanish girl Garbine Muguruza while Venus succumbed to Slovakian Anna Schmiedlova on the Philippe Chatrier court.
Serena, a 17-time major winner, went down 6-2, 6-2 to Garbine for her earliest exit at a major tournament since falling in the first round at Roland Garros two years ago.
Older sister Venus was eliminated by Anna 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Venus, seeded 29 here, looked to be on course for the sibling encounter when she broke early and took the first set from the world No.56. But Roland Garros has never been her happiest hunting ground – her best result was runner-up to Serena 12 years ago – and she has not made it through to the second week since 2010.
The odds were against Venus, not least because she turns 34 next month and her first and second-round opponents here had a combined age of 36.
All the same, Anna did well to take control of the match. The 19-year-old is clearly on her way into the top 50 very soon.
Venus saved two match points but Anna took the third with a backhand as authoritative as it was stylish.
A still bigger shock came the way of the No.20 seed Alize Cornet. Facing the unheralded American Taylor Townsend, ranked 205 in the world, France’s leading woman player lost the first set and was tested all the way in the second.
The formidable Townsend broke Cornet at once in the decider and stretched away. At 5-1, Townsend hesitated, and it was only on the fifth match point that she came through. It wasn’t just a great win, it was the best match of the tournament so far and the 20-year-old Townsend took it 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
The No.12 seed Flavia Pennetta also went out, to Johanna Larsson. The Italian seemed in control but Larsson surged past to take it 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
Another casualty was last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki, seeded 16 here, who was forced to retire against Mona Barthel after injuring her wrist in a first-set fall.
Lisicki kept going but eventually had to call a halt with the score at 1-6, 0-3.
But the No.8 seed Angelique Kerber progressed without too much drama. Varvara Lepchenko gave her a second set test before the German came through 6-2, 7-5. Carla Suarrez Navarro, the No.14 seed, prevailed in a fluctuating match against Timea Bacsinszky, eventually succeeding 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.
The 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur produced a comprehensive victory over the Austrian Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3, and will now play Dominika Cibulkova.
The Slovak – a quarter-finalist here two years ago – kept things simple against Tamira Paszek. The No.9 seed came through 6-3, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Daniela Hantuchova, seeded 31 for her 12th visit to Roland Garros, beat France’s Claire Feuerstein 6-1, 6-1 although the match’s 88-minute duration somewhat belied the scoreline.