tournament at the French Open.
The second ranked American, despite her recent losing streak, won the last two grand slams;
the Australian Open and the US Open before finishing as finalist at Wimbledon last year.
Williams, who throughout her decade long career has suffererd several injuries, fought a leg injury in March in the Miami WTA Tour final before losing all three of her French Open tune-up claycourt matches in the opening rounds of each tournament.
Then in her first round at Paris, Williams struggled in a tough three setter before breezing through an easy second round contest.
In 2003 at Paris, Williams succumbed to tears in her press conference following an epic three set semifinal loss to Justine Henin of Belgium in which Henin exercised some questionable tactics.
And so today it was a deja vu of sorts at 2 all in the first set against the 43rd Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez of Spain as a Williams backhand passing shot according to television replays struck Martinez Sanchez's right arm then landed across the net.
As the point occurred on breakpoint, the Spaniard recorded a vital break of serve for a 3-2 lead.
Williams lifted her hand to apologize saying to the chair umpire saying, “I felt so bad. I didn’t mean to hit her. I don't know why you gave her the game. That's totally not cool.”
“She better not come to the net again,” Williams then added before accusing her opponent of gamesmanship in her postmatch press conference after winning the encounter 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Williams, who has referred to herself as “a struggling actress,” replying to several journalists, adlibbed her own script.
“I didn't 'think' the ball touched her... the ball did touch her, 100 percent, on her arm. The rules of tennis is when the ball hits your body, then it's out of play. You lose a point automatically.”
“So the ball hit her body, and therefore, she should have lost the point... instead of cheating.”
Asked about the incident moments later Martinez Sanchez said the ball had touched only her racket, not her arm before adding, “I don't like to comment about this. It's a stupid comment.”
Williams, who took the Paris singles title in 2002, next faces the 24th seeded Aleksandra Wozniak of Canada in the fourth round.