Welcome to Roland Garros Rewind, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable matches from the past two decades at the French Open.

From notorious upsets to great escapes, rewind the clock and check out our list of the Top 8 first round matches., laid out in chronological order.

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2001: Barbara Schett def. [2] Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4

Two-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams was the heavy favorite going up against unseeded Austrian Barbara Schett, ranked No.24. The American sitting at a career-high World No.2 in the rankings, and had already won a clay title in Hamburg in the lead up to the 2001 French Open. 

But an error-strewn performance saw Venus crash out in a first-round stunner against Schett, losing in straight sets 6-4, 6-4. Schett had never taken a set off of Venus in their previous four encounters, but she rose to the occasion in Paris.

Schett went on to reach the fourth round and Venus eventually rebounded to add even more Grand Slam titles to her name, but the match is remembered for more than just its surprising result. When Grand Slam tournaments later increased the number of seeded players from 16 to 32, this blockbuster first-round battle was one of the most cited examples for why the change was made.

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2005: [10] Justine Henin def. Conchita Martinez, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4

22-year-old Justine Henin faced one of the toughest first-round tests against Concihta Martinez en route to her second French Open title in 2005. After an illness-plagued 2004 season, the queen of clay was back with titles in Charleston, Warsaw and Berlin to her name.

Taking to Court Philippe Chatrier on a cold and windy day, Henin wasted no time in raining down a 19-minute love set against the Spaniard, who was playing in the later stages of her career at 33. But Martinez bounced back in epic fashion, despite being broken in a marathon 20-minute service game in the first game of the second set. Martinez broke back immediately, and the battle was on. 

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After Martinez broke late to take the second set, the pair were locked in the decider as Henin started to regain her rhythm. She needed two hours and 16 minutes to finally claim the victory, her first step on the road to three consecutive French Open titles between 2005-2007.

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2008: [1] Maria Sharapova def. Evgeniya Rodina, 6-1, 3-6, 8-6

World No.1 Maria Sharapova came within two points of being out of the 2008 French Open after being taken the distance by her Russian compatriot Evgeniya Rodina in the first round.  

19-year-old Rodina was competing in her first Grand Slam main draw match and looked overwhelmed on Court Philippe Chatrier, struggling in the gusty conditions. Sharapova made quick work of the first set, 6-1, but had a battle on her hands in the second as Rodina shook off her nerves. 

The younger Russian fired back everything Sharapova blasted her way, drawing out her opponent’s unforced errors in the second set, before taking it 6-3. As the red dust continued to swirl, both players were locked into a tense third set that saw no breaks of serve through 6-6. Sharapova had to serve to stay in the match down 5-4, a game that saw her come within two points of defeat at 30-30. But she held her nerve to prevail, 6-1, 3-6, 8-6.

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2009: [2] Serena Williams def. Klara Zakopalova, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 

World No.2 Serena Williams arrived in Paris with a lot of motivation, looking to win her third consecutive Grand Slam title - but she came close to almost losing in the opening round against Klara Zakopalova. 

Ranked No.100, Zakopalova was a 27-year-old Czech journeywoman, but one that Serena had history with: Zakopalova had just recently stunned the American in Marbella during the lead up to the French Open.  

She almost repeated that feat as Serena struggled to find her rhythm and take her chances, missing five match points in the second set and another three in the third set. It had been a cold and rainy day dotted with stoppages in play, and Serena was visibly frustrated with herself after being broken serving for the match in the second set. Zakopalova edged through in the tiebreaker, and didn’t go away in the third set. But Serena eventually pulled off the victory in two hours and 24 minutes, the 2002 champion literally jumping for joy.

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2010: Kimiko Date def. [9] Dinara Safina, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5

39-year-old Kimiko Date hadn’t played a match at the French Open since 1996, the year she retired. But her first victory in 14 years was one for the history books, taking down two-time runner-up and former World No.1 Dinara Safina in the opening round.  

The Russian had been struggling to replicate the magic of her 2009 season, which saw Safina reach back-to-back Grand Slam finals and rise to the WTA World No.1 ranking. But she found it tough to play through the pressure - along with a career-threatening back injury.  

Safina seemed set to cruise after edging through the first set, but Date kept coming back. She rallied back from a 5-2 deficit to win the second set, and then trailed 4-1 in the final set before turning it around to become the second-oldest woman to win a Roland Garros match.

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2012: Virginie Razzano def. [5] Serena Williams, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 

One of the biggest upsets in recent tennis history took place in 2012, when World No.111  Virginie Razzano defeated World No.5 and former champion Serena Williams in a three-hour first round battle. 

It was the first and, so far, the only time that Serena has lost in the first round of a Grand Slam - despite holding two match points at 5-1 in the second set tiebreak. Serena had just returned to action after missing nearly a year due to a series of health scares, including foot surgeries and blood clots. 

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But after claiming the first set and leading the second set tiebreak 5-1, Serena lost the next six points in a row to give up to go to a third set. The Frenchwoman surged ahead to 5-0, trying to keep Serena at bay, reaching 5-3. A marathon, 23-minute final game ended with Razzano converting her eight match point, putting a stunning end to Serena’ s French Open campaign. 

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2013: Garbiñe Muguruza def. Karolina Pliskova, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3

While the top players and big names battled it out on stadium courts, the first meeting between two rising talents was quietly unfolding on Court 10. The last match of the day featured future two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza taking on future World No.1 Karolina Pliskova in an epic, three-set battle.   

Playing in her first French Open main draw, 19-year-old Muguruza bounced back from losing the first set by a narrow margin, weathering the big Pliskova serve to take the second. The Spaniard closed out the match confidently, displaying her great fighting spirit at the tournament where, only three years later, she would lift her first Grand Slam trophy. 

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2016: Kiki Bertens def. [3] Angelique Kerber, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 

Playing in her first Grand Slam match since becoming 2016 Australian Open winner, Angelique Kerber had a rude awakening when she arrived in Paris. The No.3 seed was upset by Kiki Bertens, ranked World No.58. 

The Dutch player had come into the match on the back of a title in Nuremberg that weekend, and she continued her fine form against Kerber, quickly taking the opening set. But the German seemed to have turned things around in the second set, and was able to level the match to send them into a decider. 

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But Kerber had been plagued by a left shoulder injury throughout the clay season, and it flared up again as the match continued. Bertens quickly moved ahead to a 3-0 lead, and despite saving two match points, Kerber’s fate - and the stunning upset - was sealed. 

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2017: [13] Kristina Mladenovic vs Jennifer Brady, 3-6, 6-3, 9-7 

Paris had been a fairytale for Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic in 2016, when she partnered with countrywoman Caroline Garcia in the doubles competition to claim the pair’s first Grand Slam trophy at home.  

But one year later, the dream of another title was in jeopardy, threatening came crashing down before it began. Mladenovic had picked up a back injury before the tournament, and was unsure if she would be able to recover in time for her opening clash against the up-and-coming Jennifer Brady. 

Mladenovic, who had reached finals at Stuttgart and Madrid in the leadup to Paris, was struggling visibly during the match, and she quickly went down 3-0 in the opening set. The French crowd on Chatrier willed her on as she fought her way back, taking the second set and going the distance in the third. Eventual quarterfinalist Mladenovic had just enough to edge through, claiming the victory after nearly three hours and court - much to the delight of the home crowd. 


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