Williams reduced to tears by hostile Paris crowd

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The Independent Online

Serena Williams, the Wimbledon champion, was in tears here yesterday after a partisan crowd booed her as she was knocked out of the French Open by Justine Henin-Hardenne, of Belgium.

Williams, the winner of the last four Grand Slam singles titles, was subjected to the hostility of spectators who cheered her errors during the third set of the semi-final. Henin-Hardenne won, 6-3, 4-6, 7-5, to advance to meet her 19-year-old compatriot, Kim Clijsters. It will be the first all-Belgian final in Grand Slam history.

"I don't think being an American, with what's going on between France and America right now, had anything to do with it," Williams said. "Sometimes people just want the underdog to win. It was a very tough crowd.

"I think it's bad when people start booing in between serves, or other people are egging them on by doing ridiculous things," the 21-year-old added.

Henin-Hardenne, who lost to Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2001 in her only previous Grand Slam final, said she was pleased with the crowd's support. She added: "Sometimes it could be a little bit too much when Serena was missing first serves. But maybe if I have to play her in the States it will be the same kind of situation."