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SerenaSlams
May 27th, 2007, 08:51 PM
Serena survives the rain and Pironkova
Sunday, May 27, 2007

On a wet, sloppy day on a court that she has had so many struggles on in the past, 2002 Roland Garros champion Serena Williams overcame Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

In just the second year that the tournament has begun play on Sunday, eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena needed to call on all her vast experience to manoeuvre her way back into the contest.

I was thinking 'There's no way I'm gonna go home on Sunday, it's not even Monday,' Serena said. I can't lose on Sunday. It also kept me really motivated.

Starting slowly without a quick first step in her first round contest, Williams dug herself a huge hole early on in the contest, as the 19-year-old Bulgarian kept the ball deep, stayed aggressive in crosscourt rallies and did not allow Williams to dictate pace.

Williams gained a little steam after falling behind 2-5 in the first set and fought off four set points to even things at 5-5, but she was broken in the next game and then the pair were forced off the court by rain showers, which lasted around six and a half hours.

They finally got back on court past 6 pm under twilight conditions, but Serena could not find her rhythm and Pironkova served out the set at love.

But after going down an immediate break in the second set, Williams began to work the rallies with more patience, refusing to hit herself off the court. She quickly found her rhythm and once she did, was able to yank Pironkova around the by mixing in high loopers with laser shots down the line. She ran off six consecutive games to take the second set 6-1.

I was playing more patient and I was doing what I've been practising, Serena said. I think you have to enjoy it on the clay, and nowadays people are playing even more tougher here, so I enjoy it a lot.

Pironkova, who had upset Serena's elder sister Venus in the 2006 Australian Open, tried to claw her way back into the match in the third set, but Williams decided to set up a wall behind the baseline and the Bulgarian couldn't get enough shots past her. Pironkova managed to win a game to edge to 1-3, but Serena kept pressing the youngster and easily closed out the match.

This is Williams' first appearance at Roland Garros in two years, as she missed 2005 and 2006 with injuries. She holds an amazing 30-0 record in first round Grand Slam contests.

I have to knock on wood because I know I've never lost, she said. It's gonna happen maybe one day, but I'm really proud of that record. I hold hard on it. It's like my goal in life is to stay not losing in the first round of a Grand Slam.

Williams faces the winner of the contest between France's Virgine Razzano and Venezuela's Milagros Sequera.

Russian and 10th seed Dinara Safina, who could meet Serena in the fourth round, also got through, taking down the Ukraine's Yuliana Fedak 7-5, 6-4.

Simply Stunning, Simply Serena
:worship: 57 Consecutive Weeks as World #1 :worship:
:worship: Olympic Gold Medalist ('00 Doubles w/ Venus) :worship: