x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Rome next but Serena Williams has another feat on clay in mind at Paris

The French Open has never been a happy hunting ground for Serena Williams. She has won just one of her 15 grand slam titles there - back in 2002 - and last year, she was dumped out in the first round by Italian Virginie Razzano.

Serena Williams, left, had little trouble dispatching Maria Sharapova at the final of the Madrid Open, and though the Rome Masters is next the American is already thinking of Roland Garros and the French Open.
Serena Williams, left, had little trouble dispatching Maria Sharapova at the final of the Madrid Open, and though the Rome Masters is next the American is already thinking of Roland Garros and the French Open.

Following her emphatic, straight-sets win over defending French Open champion Maria Sharapova in Madrid, Serena Williams was asked about her chances at the French Open, which starts later this month.

"It is the ultimate challenge," said the world No 1 after winning her 50th WTA Tour singles title.

"Whether I reach it, I don't know. I'm not going to put that pressure on myself.

"I wanted it last year and I didn't get it. So this year, I'm just looking forward to Rome, and then after that Roland Garros, and see what happens."

The French Open has never been a happy hunting ground for Williams. She has won one of her 15 grand slam titles there - 11 years ago - and last year, she was dumped in the first round by Italian Virginie Razzano.

Stung by that defeat, the American has been largely unstoppable since. The 31 year old has a 62-3 win-loss record after that shock at Roland Garros and has won Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open and six other titles along the way.

This year, she has lost only two of her 33 matches and her commanding win over Sharapova in Madrid makes her the overwhelming favourite going to Roland Garros.

She has probably not looked hungrier on a tennis court.

"Every time I play, I really relish it more," she said in Madrid.

If she can keep that focus, her long wait for a second French Open crown could finally come to an end.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

 

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