SERENA Williams represents the United States’ best chance to hoist the French Open trophy this year, but questions loom about her fitness after she was forced to withdraw from the Italian Open last week with a knee injury.
Williams, a three-time French Open champion who has a 28-4 record on the red clay of Roland Garros, could be dangerous if she is pain free and can get off to a good start.
“Hopefully, Serena is healthy enough to play,” Martin Blackman, general manager for player development with the United States Tennis Association (USTA), told Reuters.
“She’s such a professional that she doesn’t play unless she’s healthy, especially Grand Slams,” he said of the 23-time major champion, who is currently ranked number 10 in the world.
“So if she does, I think with every match that she wins, she becomes a bigger and bigger threat.”
Her sister Venus has underperformed this year but remains in the conversation given her experience at slams, which includes a finals appearance at the French Open back in 2002.
The speedy, defensive-minded Sloane Stephens reached the French Open final last year and the 2017 U.S. Open champion could be poised to get the job done this year.
“Clay is a great surface for Sloane,” Blackman said.
“She’s such a good mover, she’s so good at opening the court, and she has so many different ways to hurt you. And she is getting more and more comfortable at the net.”
The French Open will be held at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, from Sunday, May 26 to June 9, comprising singles, doubles and mixed doubles play. – Reuters