Serena slumps in Open thriller - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Serena slumps in Open thriller

By Steven Wine 06/06/2003 05:53:46 AM Comments (0)

She's John McEnroe's favourite player. She has the most beautiful backhand in Belgium - or anywhere else. And now she's Serena Williams' No. 1 nemesis.

Justine Henin-Hardenne ended Williams' one-year domination of major events by beating her 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the semifinals of the French Open.

It was the first loss for Williams in her past 34 Grand Slam matches, but her second loss in a row to Henin-Hardenne. Williams was 21-0 this year before the Belgian beat her at Charleston, South Carolina., in April.

Williams will remain No. 1 next week, but there's been a slight shift in the balance of power.

"I hope things are going to change," Henin-Hardenne said. "She remains a great champion, very difficult to beat. So it's early to say anything. But the gap is becoming smaller."

One indication: On Saturday, Roland Garros will host the first Grand Slam final since the 2002 Australian Open featuring someone other than the Williams sisters.

Instead, it will be the first all-Belgian Grand Slam final, with the No. 4-seeded Henin-Hardenne facing No. 2 Kim Clijsters.

"Belgian people have to be going crazy," Henin-Hardenne said.

"A real Belgian slam," Clijsters said.

Henin-Hardenne will be hard-pressed to surpass her inspired performance in the semifinals.

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