Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova advance

Updated: May 24, 2011, 9:32 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Kim Clijsters won her first match at the French Open in five years, easily defeating Anastasiya Yakimova 6-2, 6-3 in the first round of the clay-court Grand Slam on Tuesday.

Clijsters, the reigning U.S. and Australian Open champion, played her previous match at Roland Garros in 2006 when she lost in the semifinals to Justine Henin.

"I remember that I played some matches on that Court Suzanne Lenglen. I remember that I didn't really like it too much," said Clijsters, who came to Paris with the chance to win her third straight major after taking the title at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. "Now I was like, 'Oh, great, I get to play there." '

She did not return to the tournament as a player since the 2006 match because of injuries and a sabbatical from tennis while she got married and gave birth to a daughter.

The 27-year-old Belgian, a runner-up in Paris in 2001 and 2003, also had to cope with shoulder and ankle injuries this season and resumed training only a few weeks ago.

It was her first match since retiring with a shoulder injury two months ago at Indian Wells, Calif.

"It feels steady and good. So it's important now when I get back to the hotel that I ice it a lot and that I take good care of it, and I will have treatment," Clijsters said. "Then tomorrow just make sure I keep mobilizing it so that I don't get more inflammation than I have already."

Earlier, Maria Sharapova rolled into the second round by beating Mirjana Lucic of Croatia 6-3, 6-0. Also advancing to the second round was Australian Open finalist Li Na, while former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic lost.

Sharapova won the Italian Open before coming to Roland Garros to seek the only Grand Slam title she has never won.

"If you feel pressure, it's part of the business. It's part of the sport," the seventh-seeded Russian said of the expectations placed on her. "That means there's something on the line. That means you want it bad. It's how you handle it.

"Without pressure, what's the sport about? It's how you really handle the situation," she said.

Against Lucic on center court, Sharapova was not troubled. She won nine straight games to finish the match and never faced a break point.

Sharapova, who will face French wild card Caroline Garcia, won the title at Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.

The sixth-seeded Li, who became the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final, dominated at times and struggled at times in her 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic.

Li trailed 3-1 in the first set but then won 10 of the next 12 games to lead 5-2 in the second before her opponent forced the tiebreak. She held two match points in the breaker but then lost four straight points.

"First match is easy or tough. Nothing between," Li said.

In the third, Li jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on to win.

Ivanovic, who won the title at Roland Garros in 2008, fell to Johanna Larsson of Sweden 7-6 (3), 0-6, 6-2.

The 64th-ranked Larsson, who won only her second match in four Grand Slam appearances, won the match when Ivanovic sent a forehand into the net.

Ivanovic has struggled in Grand Slam tournaments since winning the French Open. She also lost in the first round at the Australian Open.

"I try to look back and see what I've done then and to do the same things," the 20th-seeded Serb said tearfully. "I'm just trying to work it out."

Ivanovic has worked hard to put her career back on track but her season has been marred by injuries. She had an abdominal strain that forced her to withdraw from the Sydney International in January and miss the Qatar Open in February. She injured her abdominal again in a Fed Cup match against Slovakia in April and withdrew last week from the Strasbourg International because of left wrist inflammation.

"I had physios traveling with me the last couple of weeks," Ivanovic said, "but it hasn't worked out the way it was supposed to. It's very frustrating.

"I feel like it's all there. I just need to be healthy and to be able to play. ... The inflammation is gone, so I hope it's not going to come back."

Ivanovic has not reached the last four of any tournament this year, while Larsson has advanced to the semifinals twice.

The 22-year-old Larsson cracked the top 100 last June.

"Right now I hope to get under 50, and then always keep getting better and (higher) in the rankings," Larsson said. "My vision is for sure top 10, but we take it step by step."

Vania King of the United States eliminated 22nd-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-7 (10), 6-3, 6-2.

Cibulkova was a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 2009.

King, of Boynton Beach, Fla., is ranked 115th. She has been as far as the third round once in 19 previous Grand Slam tournaments, at the 2009 U.S. Open.

She's never been past the second round at the French Open.

The 22-year-old King will face Elena Baltacha of Britain, a 7-5, 6-2 winner over American Sloane Stephens.

But first on Court Philippe Chatrier, an emotional Virginie Razzano played despite the death of her fiance eight days ago. The Frenchwoman, playing with a black ribbon on her shirt, lost to 24th-seeded Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia 6-3, 6-1.

[+] EnlargeRazzano
AP Photo/Michel SpinglerVirginie Razzano wore a black ribbon Tuesday at the French Open in memory of her late fiancé and former coach Stephane Vidal, who died last week.

"I felt a lot of emotion, a lot of pain on court today," Razzano said. "The pain is permanent within me. It's very hard. But it felt good to be surrounded by so many people and to be here.

"I tried to pay tribute to Stephane today. It was almost a 'mission impossible,' but I did my best," she said.

Razzano's fiance and coach Stephane Vidal died on May 16 after being diagnosed with a brain tumor nine years ago. He was 32.

Razzano will also play in the doubles tournament with partner Alize Cornet.

In other results, No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and No. 21 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium won.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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