PARIS - Out of breath and out of sorts, Venus Williams played her way out of the French Open yesterday with her most lopsided Grand Slam loss since 2001.
That the No. 3-seeded Williams would exit in the third round at Roland Garros is not so extraordinary: She now has exited the French Open at the same stage 4 of the past 5 years. But the 6-0, 6-4 loss to 29th-seeded Agnes Szavay, whose resumé boasts one lone major quarterfinal appearance, was anything but ordinary.
"I'm used to beating people 6-0. I'm not used to my shot not going in and losing a set 6-0," Williams said. "So it completely was foreign ground for me."
It was the 14th time in 662 career matches that Venus had lost a set 0-6, but the red clay often feels that way to the older Williams sister, whose seven Grand Slam singles titles were earned at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Hours later, Maria Sharapova appeared headed in the same direction. Like Williams, Sharapova hasn't won the French Open, and she, too, slogged through three sets in each of her first two matches this week, then looked awful at the start yesterday.
But Sharapova, surgically repaired right shoulder and all, moved into the fourth round, rallying to beat 98th-ranked Yaroslava Shvedova, of Kazakhstan, 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
"I dug a nice pothole for myself there. That's kind of what I've been doing the last few rounds," Sharapova said. "I don't think she came up with great shots. I honestly believe that I was making easy errors."