PARIS, June 5 (UPI) -- Serena Williams had her incredible Grand Slam title run snapped Thursday, dropping a three-sets semifinal battle to Justine Henin-Hardenne in front of a boisterous crowd at the French Open.
The 21-year-old Williams was seeking her fifth consecutive Grand Slam singles crown, having won 33 straight matches in that span. The American had reached the final in five majors in a row, dating to the 2001 U.S. Open.
While reinforcing her domination on the WTA Tour, Williams also had won 29 of her first 31 matches this season. But the post-match smiles and waves were replaced by tears Thursday after she lost to Henin-Hardenne, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
"I'm not used to crying," said Williams, who made anti-French comments in Miami earlier this season.
Part of the emotion came from her battle to overcome an angry crowd rooting as much against Williams as for Henin-Hardenne. Fans supported the Belgian from the start and turned harshly against the American in the second set.
"The crowd gave me all the support I needed to win the match," Henin-Hardenne said. "It was unbelievable playing in this atmosphere."
"It was a tough crowd out there today," Williams said. "That's the story of my life."
Williams stopped playing two different points in the set, thinking the ball was out. The umpire agreed after jumping from his chair to check the spot, but fans still howled.
"It's a little difficult," Williams said of the crowd. "All my life, I've had to fight. It's just another fight I'm going to have to learn how to win."
Williams, one of the most recognizable black athletes in the world, did not think the crowd's reaction - which included jeers after each fault and unforced error - was anti-American or racially motivated.
"I don't think being American had anything to with it," said Williams, who had 79 unforced errors. "She had a lot of fans out there today. I just think sometimes you're not good enough to win."
Williams said Henin-Hardenne deserved the victory. The fourth seed was not spectacular, but she broke Williams eight times en route to her second career Grand Slam final.
With her surprising triumph, Henin-Hardenne set up an all-Belgian final with second seed Kim Clijsters, who defeated Russian Nadia Petrova, 7-5, 6-1. Clijsters, who turns 20 on Sunday, also is looking for her first major crown.
"I just have to say that it's unbelievable for Belgium," Henin-Hardenne said. "It's an amazing situation."
Clijsters broke Petrova to win the first set, then cruised into her second career Grand Slam final. She lost to Jennifer Capriati in the 2001 final and is glad to be back.
"Yeah, it feels incredible," said Clijsters, who is seeking her fourth title of the year and 14th career. "I don't think I realize yet what I've done again."
Neither could Henin-Hardenne, who admitted before the match that she was intimidated by Williams, even though she handed the top-ranked player in the world one of her two previous losses this year.
Henin-Hardenne, who defeated Williams in the final of the Family Circle Cup in South Carolina, began the match aggressively and cruised through the first set on Philippe Chatrier Court.
Williams rebounded in the second set, bellowing after breaking to go up 5-3. She won the set with a deep backhand and celebrated with a mild fist pump.
The momentum appeared to have swung as Williams opened the third set with a break. Henin broke back, but Williams answered with another break of serve, then held her own to go up 3-1.
Henin broke at love for the second time to get within 3-2.
The crowd began to express its displeasure with Williams after the first point of the sixth game. She stopped playing after thinking a shot was wide of the left sideline. The umpire confirmed it, but fans whistled at Williams.
"I didn't question any calls," Williams said. "The balls were clearly out."
Williams broke at love for a 4-2 lead, but she quit another point in the seventh game as Henin-Hardenne's shot clearly sailed wide of the baseline. The crowd did not care.
"It doesn't make it any harder," Williams said of the jeering. "Actually, that's a lie, it definitely does it make it harder. I've just got to be a little stronger next time."
"The crowd, sometimes it was a bit too much," Henin-Hardenne admitted. "But it's tennis."
Serving at 4-2, 30-love, Williams faulted while Henin-Hardenne had her hand up asking for her opponent to wait. Williams asked for another first serve but was denied. Her displeasure with the Belgian produced a cold postmatch handshake.
"I was a little disappointed with her," Williams said. "It wasn't the turning point of the match. I still should have won the game."
With the crowd cheering for every fault or error Williams made, the top seed lost four straight points, allowing Henin-Hardenne to claw within 4-3.
Henin-Hardenne held serve to even the match, then broke for the fourth time in the set.
Williams hit a forehand into the net, double-faulted and smacked a forehand long to give the Belgian the advantage and lost the game on a questionable drop shot that produced a winner for Henin-Hardenne.
"I think it would have worked if I hit good drop shots," Williams said. "I was hitting them good in practice so I wanted to try a few today."
After Williams broke again at love to level the set, Henin-Hardenne saved a break point with a charging forehand. Williams then hit a backhander long and another wide to fall behind.
Williams continued to struggle in the final game of the match, failing to put away an overhead smash on the first point. Henin-Hardenne answered with two big serves and won when Williams sent a backhand wide of the right sideline.