PARIS (AP) -Virginie Razzano got to smile a really big smile at the French Open for the first time in years.
The little-known Frenchwoman played at Roland Garros last year barely a week after the death of her coach and fiance. But on Tuesday, Razzano did what no woman has even done before: she beat Serena Williams in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament.
"Maybe it's a new Virginie. I don't know," Razzano said after defeating Williams 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Court Philippe Chatrier, the main stadium at the French Open. "Yes, it's a big victory for me."
Razzano was very close to bowing out in the second set. She trailed 5-1 in the tiebreaker before winning six straight points. That run of good fortune turned the match around for good.
"I said, `OK, I can win this set. I can come back, and I must to do that,"' Razzano said. "I was sure I can do that. And I do that. You know, it's just because I want to do."
In the third set, Razzano jumped out to a 5-0 lead. But Williams won three straight games to get herself back in the match, and then had five break points to get back on serve in the final game.
But Razzano saved them all, and finally won the match on her eighth match point despite cramping in her leg.
"Well, I always push my limits a bit further. Since I was a little girl, I always fought to the end," Razzano said. "So mentally I'm extremely tough. I always believe in myself. I always believe everything is possible, even if things are tough."
Williams entered the French Open with a perfect 46-0 record in first-round matches at Grand Slam tournaments. Thirteen of those ended up with titles, including the 2002 French Open.
But it all ended against a Frenchwoman on a court in France in front of thousands of French fans.
"It's happiness, pure happiness," Razzano said. "It's the most beautiful victory of my whole career, especially on the Philippe Chatrier court in front of the whole crowd."
After the match, Williams was asked if she knew about Razzano's personal problems with the death of her fiance. She responded by noting that she has had her own issues.
Shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2010, Williams cut her foot on glass, leading to a series of health issues, including clots in her lungs.
"We all have stories. I mean, I almost died," Williams said. "So, you know, it's life. You know, it just depends on how you deal with it. She obviously is dealing with it really well."
Razzano's best showing at the French Open was a fourth-round appearance in 2009. But that win and last year's losses - both on the court and off it - are behind her for good.
"Honestly, the past is the past," Razzano said. "I think now I did my mourning. I feel good today. It took time."