PARIS - Venus Williams was cruising along with a 6-3, 4-1 lead over her 35-year-old opponent at the French Open yesterday when, suddenly, everything went awry.

The double-faults and the forehand errors piled up, and Williams lost six consecutive games to fall behind as a drizzle fell at Roland Garros. The crowd was rooting for the underdog, 93rd-ranked Tzipora Obziler, of Israel .

Eventually, six-time major champion Williams, who has never won the French Open, turned things around to pull out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Obziler and reach the second round before the rain grew heavier and washed out the latter part of the day's schedule.

Among those who did play was No. 1 Roger Federer, who wasn't tested in a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sam Querrey, of the United States. Rafael Nadal's opening match was postponed to today. *