Serena Williams Leads Small Band Of Americans Into Second Round

PARIS -- The U.S. dollar may be faring well against the Euro (time to stock up on those garden gnomes!), but the U.S. women are not faring so well against their European and global counterparts. The U.S. sent 17 women to the French Open, the most of any nation. And after just one round, there are only four left: Serena Williams, Madison Keys, Irina Falconi and Sloane Stephens.

Perhaps more would have advanced to the second round had there not been two matches between Americans -- Keys vs. Varvara Lepchenko on Tuesday and Stephens vs. Venus Williams on Monday -- but then again, maybe there would have been even fewer since those head-to-heads guaranteed U.S. victories.

"That's kind of the way things go sometimes,'' Serena Williams said. "I was a casualty once.''

Indeed she was. Williams has lost only one first-round match in her Grand Slam career (she's 58-1), and that was here in 2012. She won the French Open title the next year and then lost in the second round last year. She won again Tuesday, beating Andrea Hlavackova 6-2, 6-3. "I defended my [ranking] points, so I'm excited about that,'' Williams said.

Williams had little trouble with the 190th-ranked Hlavackova, though she did have one embarrassing moment when she misplayed a shot so badly that it wound up hitting her in the back.

"I'm allegedly a professional tennis player,'' she said, "and I was thinking, 'I'm going to hit a backhand, I will hit a forehand, and I will run around and hit a backhand. No, no, no, run around and hit a forehand. Next thing I know, it hit me in the back. So I was, like, embarrassed; at the same time, I thought it was really funny. It happens to the best of us.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

A bird's-eye view of Serena Williams' first-round win apparently wasn't good enough for this pigeon.

"Maybe not, but to me.''

Well, she is the best of the players, so both statements are true.

The other American women went 2-6 Tuesday, with Keys beating Lepchenko 7-6 (3), 6-3 and Falconi routing Manon Arcangioli 6-2, 6-0. Keys reached the quarterfinals at Strasbourg last week before withdrawing with a right elbow injury. She had it wrapped Tuesday but said that was as much about superstition as anything.

"I'm just really happy to get through the first round. I've only done it one other time before here,'' said Keys, who lost to Serena in the semifinals at this year's Australian Open. "Just really happy with how I played today and fought. Hopefully can just kind of get a momentum going.''

Coco Vandeweghe, who changed coaches just four days ago, lost her first-round match Tuesday, as did Taylor Townsend, Alexa Glatch, Shelby Rogers and Christina McHale.

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