Venus out of Paris, into London: With Venus Williams’ 6-2, 6-3 second-round loss to Agnieszka Radwanska on Wednesday and her sister Serena’s historic first-round losson Tuesday, the 2012 French Open marks the earliest exit by the Williams sisters at a Grand Slam tournament. If Serena’s defeat was bathed in drama and struggle, Venus’ exit was a remarkably quiet one. Radwanska, who was on her game, hit a mere six unforced errors and moved exceptionally well. This was one-way traffic from the start and an impressive statement from Radwanska, who has a tough but makeable draw to the semifinals. I’ve never been convinced of her clay bona fides, but if she makes it deep into the second week, consider me convinced.
The good news for Venus is that her first-round win virtually assures her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. She should be ranked within the top 50 when the rankings cut-off kicks in after the French Open, which is more than enough to earn her place. She’s made it clear that the only reason she came back so early from her autoimmune disorder was to try to qualify for the London Olympics.
• Stephens continues her rise: Sloane Stephens was the only American to win on Wednesday. Yes, that’s a bit misleading — she defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands, so obviously there was going to be a U.S. victor either way. But Stephens is into the third round of a major for the second time in her young career. The 19-year-old has a great opportunity to do even better — and, with a little help, perhaps make the Olympic team, too. Stephens next faces Mathilde Johansson, a Frenchwoman ranked No. 93, which is a very winnable match for her.