The two biggest names and highest earners in women’s sport will set off on another collision course when the French Open gets underway at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Serena Williams is a 19-time Grand Slam winner, at 33 still the undisputed queen of tennis and the top seed. Maria Sharapova has won two out of the last three titles in Paris, including last year, and at 28 is in the prime of her glittering career. Should the seedings hold firm and the American plays the Russian in the final on June 6, however, past experience points to there being only one winner.
Williams has not lost to Sharapova since 2004 and leads their head-toheads by an astounding 17-2, the last of these coming in the Australian Open final at the start of the yea.r Still, Sharapova believes she is hitting form at the right time and fancies her chances on clay, Williams’ leastfavourite surface “I feel I’m in a much better spot to where I was physically.
I am prepared enough to be ready,” she said after her win in Rome at the weekend. After losing her 27-match unbeaten run in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open earlier this month, she subsequently withdrew from the Italian Open with a sore elbow. Asked then if her decision could harm her chances in Paris, where she crashed out at the first round last year having triumphed in Rome, Williams said: “I don’t think it will. If I continue to play it could get worse and I could have a situation on my hands.”