Kerber, who could lose her top world ranking to Karolina Pliskova or Simona Halep depending on how they perform here, became the first No. 1 seed to lose in the first round at Roland Garros in the Open era. Serena Williams lost in the second round in 2014, as did Justine Henin in 2004.
While not considered a favorite to win the tournament despite her ranking, Kerber was expected to do better than make history with an early exit. She never seemed to command the points, and the capable Makarova took advantage from the start.
Credit Lionel Bonaventure/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Kvitova beat Boserup with ease, using nine aces and winning 78 percent of the points on her first serve. Her opening shot elicited her trademark cry of “Pojd,” translated by her spokeswoman, Katie Spellman, as Czech for “Come on.”
In fact, Spellman and several of Kvitova’s other supporters wore black shirts that read, “Courage, Belief, Pojd,” to commemorate Kvitova’s remarkable return. The “o” in the shirts’ “Pojd” was replaced with a heart.
On Dec. 20, a home invader posing as a utility man held a knife to Kvitova’s throat, reports said, and she pulled it away with her left hand, which is her dominant hand. The assailant was never captured.
Initially, Kvitova had targeted Wimbledon, where she has won two championships, for her comeback, but her hand had improved enough for a return in Paris, more than a month ahead of plans. The No. 15 seed, Kvitova said she had promised her surgeon that if she felt any pain in practice or in the match, she would stop playing, but she never did.
She said that during a three-minute rain delay, her hand felt “weird,” but when she went back on court, normal feeling had returned, and she continued to pound Boserup.
There were moments of rustiness — long forehands and a couple of wild first serves. But in all, Kvitova said she felt better than expected.
“The first point was amazing,” she said. “I surprised myself. It felt weird. But great, as well.”