WUHAN, China, - Seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams crashed out of the $2.4 million (S$3 million) WTA Wuhan Open in the first round Sunday in a nail-biting three-set defeat to French player Caroline Garcia.
Garcia took the first set 6-4, only to suffer a 6-4 reverse in the second before clinching victory in more than two-and-a-half hours, in a tie-break which finished 8/6.
She will now face Polish fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.
Williams, 34, arrived in Wuhan after losing the Quebec City tournament final to Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni last Sunday.
Elsewhere in the tournament, home favourite Xu Shilin was forced to retire from her match with American Alison Riske in the third set with the scores at 6-6.
The 16-year-old wildcard was carried of with heatstroke after playing more than 2 hours 45 minutes in high temperatures in the central Chinese city.
The Wuhan Open will reach its climax on September 27.
Nineteen of the top 20 players are attending the Premier WTA event, including Venus's sister, world number one Serena Williams.