“I Usually Don’t Quit”: Serena Williams Kickstarts French Open 2021 Campaign With an Explosive Play Against Irina-Camelia Begu

Published 05/31/2021, 5:07 PM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 31, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts during her first round match against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier


Over the past few years, American tennis legend Serena Williams has been in the pursuit of claiming a record 24th major title. In the four grand slams finals she reached, Serena was overpowered by players like Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Bianca Andreescu.

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Heading into the French Open, the American faced early-round exits in Parma and Rome as these defeats reduced her expectations on the Parisian clay. If Serena can get past the obstacles from the first few matches, she can fancy a chance at the title.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 31, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Watch this story: LEGENDARY SIBLINGS! Serena Williams and Venus Williams’ cherishable moments at the French Open

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Serena Williams managed to win the first set by a whisker against Camelia Begu in the French Open

Also, the exit of top players like Simona Halep, Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka might help the American in clinching her 24th major title.

Coming to her first-round match at Roland Garros, Serena played against the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu in the first night match scheduled on the Parisian clay.

Camelia Begu is a known clay-courter, and has won a couple of doubles titles on the red-dirt. As expected, the Romanian gave a tough fight to Serena in the first set. While it was the American who broke first, her vulnerabilities on-serve gave multiple openings for Begu to break back.

At one time, Serena Williams was leading 5-2 in the first set and looked confident enough to finish match under an hour. But, back-to-back errors and misplaced serves took the score to 5-5.

However, the American made one thing clear. She is not going to go down without a fight, and hit the shots with intense fire power. Even though Serena desperately wanted to win the set, lack of match-practice made the American hit more errors.

All Begu had to do was defend the baseline as errors started to flow from Serena. Having won 4 consecutive games, Begu served for the set but failed to win it. The winner of the set was decided by a tie-breaker.

In the tie-breaker, the Romanian played it safe knowing that Serena is making more misses than hits. A couple of mini-breaks were exchanged between the two players. Serena saved a couple of set points on Begu’s serve and hit two huge forehand winners to win the first set in the tie-breaker,7-6(6).

Serena was unstoppable in the second set against Irina-Camelia Begu

After bagging the first set, the American cruised through the first few games of the second. Begu looked exhausted as she missed out on the two set-point opportunities in the previous set.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – May 31, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her first round match against Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

The former world number one continued her dominance from the baseline and it appeared as if the one break point she got earlier in the set was enough to win the contest.

Even at the net, Serena began to win more points when compared to the first set. Also, her first serve percentage saw an incredible rise after a nervy first set. On the other hand, the Romanian could do little to nothing to stop her in-form opponent.

Once again, a drop in the level of Serena gave an opening to Camelia Begu to bounce back in the set. If not for Serena’s out-wide first serves, the Romanian would have leveled the game at 3-3.

But, consistent serving from the American got put her back in the driving seat as she was just two games away from winning the match. Despite coming close to breaking Serena’s serve, Begu gave away yet another break point to the American.

Serving for the set at 5-2, the American made no mistake and relied on her first serves to win the match against Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6(6),6-2 in an hour and 42 minutes.

Serena mentioned her never give up mentality in the on-court interview

In the on-court interview after her victory, Serena Williams praised Begu for putting up a tough fight and also explained the French inscriptions on her shoes. Two phrases were present on the American’s shoes –  ‘je ne m’arrêterai pas’ and ‘je ne m’arrêterai jamais’ which translate to ‘I will not stop’ and ‘I will never stop fighting’. 

Explaining the same to on-court interviewer and former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, Serena said “I usually don’t quit”. 

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The American also ended the on-court interview quickly as she told Bartoli that it was already late and she was leaving. All in all, it was an inspired performance from Serena to seal the first-round victory against Begu.

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Sagar Ashtakoula

212 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.

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