Serena Williams rallies to win first night match in French Open history

Serena Williams hits the ball
Serena Williams plays a return during her first-round victory over Irina-Camelia Begu at the French Open on Monday.
(Michel Euler / Associated Press)

Serena Williams won the first scheduled night session in French Open history. She overcame two set points to beat Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (6), 6-2 under the lights Monday in the first round.

Matches at last year’s tournament in September stretched into the night on courts with new lights. But scheduled night play is new this year at Roland Garros.

Williams and Begu took the court in the twilight at 9 p.m. local time with the stadium stands empty. Fans are being admitted for day matches this year, but not for night sessions.

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Williams struggled with her first serve but moved well and played aggressively, charging forward when she had the chance. Facing a set point in the tiebreaker, she sprinted in and from the service line whacked a nervy swinging volley for a winner.

She has won the French Open three times, most recently in 2015, and at age 39 is chasing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Williams improved to 77-1 in first-round Slam matches. The loss came in Paris in 2012.