Used to be that Venus Williams was the one who was highly ranked, the one considered a title contender, the one who would dominate foes so thoroughly that matches would be tidily wrapped up in an hour.
Now 31, and figuring out from day to day how to handle an illness that saps her strength, Williams was on the wrong end of a lopsided 60-minute defeat in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.
Looking glum and lacking the verve that carried her to seven Grand Slam titles, Williams barely put up any resistance and lost 6-2, 6-3 to No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at Roland Garros. Coming a day after her younger sister Serena was stunned in the first round by 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France, the early exit marked the first time in 43 major tournaments with both in the field that neither Williams got to the third round.
"I felt like I played," Williams said after making a hard-to-fathom 33 unforced errors, 27 more than Radwanska. "That pretty much sums it up."
This one was not exactly an out-of-nowhere upset, considering that Williams is ranked 53rd now, never has been as good on clay as on other surfaces, lost to Radwanska 6-4, 6-1 two months ago, and is learning how to be a professional athlete with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.
Still, the meek way Williams departed was striking, considering that she has been ranked No. 1, has appeared in 14 major finals to Radwanska's zero, and from 2008-10 won 10 of the 11 sets the two played against each other.
"There's a lot of people who have it a lot worse than I do. I'm still playing a professional sport, so I have to be very positive," said Williams, whose fastest-in-the-game serve was broken five times Wednesday. "I haven't gotten to the 'Why me?' yet. I hope I never get to the 'Why me?' I'm not allowed to feel sorry for myself."
It's hard to know, however, how much energy she'll have from one day to the next.
While never advancing past the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam tournament, Radwanska has shown signs of being ready for a major breakthrough, with three lesser titles and a tour-high 38 victories in 2012. Of her seven losses, six were against No. 1-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
On an easy day for the top-seeded players, Azarenka breezed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Dinah Pfizenmaier of Germany 6-1, 6-1, while the No. 1 man, Novak Djokovic, extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 23 matches by beating Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 6-0, 6-4, 6-4.
Roger Federer earned his record-breaking 234th Grand Slam match victory, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3 against 92nd-ranked Adrian Ungur of Romania.