round singles match at a grand slam tournament, going 46-0 and had won all 17 of her clay-court matches of 2012.
But when Williams faced the 29 year old, 111th ranked Virginie Razzano of France, she found herself in a battle against herself, a determined, skilled French clay-courter as well as the French crowd.
Despite not playing her best tennis, Williams went ahead early 6-4, 5-4 while Razzano began to suffer from cramps in her right leg.
The American led 5-1 in the second set tiebreaker before several costly errors including a netted crosscourt backhand on setpoint would send the encounter into a third set after two hours of play.
Spirited and crafty play from Razanno combined with more errors from Williams set the Frenchwoman ahead in the decisive set 5-0.
Williams would hold on to win the next three games to pull to 3-5.
With Razanno serving for the match in the dramatic final game, Williams netted two backhands to trail 30-0 before striking a forehand down the line winning to reach 30-15.
A Razanno doublefault followed by a loud gasp caused by a leg cramp in the middle of the next point resulted to a point lost due to the hinderance rule and a Williams breakpoint.
Two Williams crosscourt backhands wide; however, would bring up the first matchpoint before the game would reach twelve deuces.
A final Williams backhand long would end the match 4-6, 7-6,(7-5), 6-3 after 3 hours and 3 minutes of play.
On the following day, Wednesday, Venus Williams at age 31 took on the third seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in second round action.
Williams, the hardest hitter of the WTA Tour, played very aggressive tennis but appeared unwilling (or unable due to her Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease which saps energy) to play longer rallies; often going for winners very early in the points.
One hour and 33 unforced errors later, Venus Williams would lose her final service game after striking a forehand crosscourt long to fall 6-2, 6-3. For the day, Radwanska had won 56 total points; 33 of them from Williams’ unforced errors.