Paris:Justine Henin took a big step on Tuesday in her return from retirement, beating Tsvetana Pironkova 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the French Open.
The match was Henin's first on center court at Roland Garros since 2007, when she won the tournament for the fourth time. She rejoined the tour in January following a 20-month retirement, and while she's seeded only 22nd, she's considered one of the favorites for the title.
She'll need to play better than she did against Pironkova, who took advantage of a shaky patch by Henin to win three consecutive games in the second set for a 3-2 lead. Henin swept 10 points in a row to regain control, and following another wobble serving at 4-3, she took the final six points.
She hit picturesque backhands, nifty drop shots and booming overhead slams _ all staples in a repertoire that has helped Henin win seven Grand Slam titles. She also missed more than half of her first serves, however, and blew a handful of easy putaways.
Despite the inconsistent play, Henin extended her winning streak at Roland Garros to 22 consecutive matches and 37 consecutive sets. She hasn't lost at the French Open since 2004.
On Monday, Roger Federer played at the French Open as defending champion for the first time and gave the fans plenty to cheer about, dipping into his considerable repertoire of shotmaking to beat 71st-ranked Peter Luczak of Australia 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.
Federer made only 11 unforced errors, won 50 of 64 points on his serve and faced one break point, which he saved.
"I was pretty relaxed," said Federer, who can tie Pete Sampras' record of 286 total weeks at No. 1 in the rankings June 7. "It was like a perfect match to get off the French Open campaign, really."
The No. 1-ranked woman, Serena Williams, found little to smile about after following Federer into the main stadium and beating Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 7-6 (2), 6-2.
"I definitely didn't feel good about it," said Williams, who counts the 2002 French Open among her 12 major championships. "At least I won. I think I'm still in the tournament; that's what matters."