Defending women’s champion Maria Sharapova has reached the French Open second round but was jeered by fans after she refused to carry out an on-court TV interview.
Second-seeded Sharapova on Monday defeated experienced Estonian Kaia Kanepi, who was a quarter-finalist three years ago, 6-2 6-4 to set-up a clash against Fed Cup teammate Vitalia Diatchenko.
But the 27-year-old Sharapova then irritated the Philippe Chatrier Court crowd by refusing to carry out the traditional on-court television interview, claiming her voice was not strong enough.
She said she had been suffering from a cold in a worrying repeat of last year when she was also sick in the run-up to Paris.
“I totally understand that everyone usually does the interviews and answers a few questions to the crowd,” said Sharapova, who was also champion in 2012 and runner-up in 2013.
“It’s absolutely normal. I’m not making any excuses but I’ve got to do what I have to do.”
Sharapova took her record against Kanepi to 5-0 but struggled at times on Monday in the testing wind which swirled around the showpiece arena.
Meanwhile, ex-world No.1 and 2012 Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska was a shock first-round loser.
The Polish 14th seed, a quarter-finalist in 2013, went down 6-2 3-6 6-1 to Germany’s Annika Beck, a player she defeated 6-0 6-0 when they met at Indian Wells last year.
The loss was only the third time in 34 grand slam tournaments that 26-year-old Radwanska had lost in the first round.
“Maybe I’m getting older,” said the tearful Pole.
Spanish eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro, a quarter-finalist in 2008 and 2014, beat Romania’s Monica Niculescu 6-2 6-2.
There were home wins for French 29th seed Alize Cornet, who defeated Roberta Vinci 4-6 6-4 6-1 for her first victory over the veteran Italian in five attempts, and wildcard Amandine Hesse, ranked 272, who hit back to beat Australia’s Jarmila Gajdosova 2-6 6-3 6-2.
Hesse’s reward is a second-round match-up with Australia’s 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur, the winner in Strasbourg at the weekend, who defeated Madison Brengle of the United States 6-1 6-3.
Virginie Razzano, playing in her 17th French Open, edged out Paraguay’s Veronica Cepede Royg 2-6 6-4 6-2.
Worried by exacerbating a stomach strain, Razzano served underhand at one stage, losing the point in the process.
German 11th seed Angelique Kerber, the champion on clay in Charleston and Stuttgart this season, needed just 50 minutes to make the second round.
Kerber, a quarter-finalist in 2012, brushed asided Timea Babos of Hungary 6-0 6-1.
Former world No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who missed last year’s Roland Garros through injury, marked her return by beating Spain’s Mara-Teresa Torr-Flor 6-2 6-1.
Croatia’s Ana Konjuh, the youngest woman in the draw at 17, made the next round with a 6-1 6-4 win over Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan.