2012 French Open Previews: Serena Williams
She won the French Open in 2002, but Serena hasn’t done much on clay since; she reached her last semifinal in Paris the following year. But 2012 has been something of a renaissance in the dirt for the 30-year-old American. She’s won two tune-up events, in Charleston and Madrid, and at the latter event she easily beat the two top players in the world, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Motivated by the upcoming Olympics, Williams seems to be enjoying herself on tour at the moment and fighting as hard as she ever has.
Reason to Hope: Because she’s still the best, that’s why. In Madrid she dismantled her two biggest rivals for this title, Sharapova and Azarenka, and the 2002 Roland Garros champ knows how to win on red clay as well. Plus, she says Paris is her favorite city and she hates to have to leave it. There’s some extra motivation to stick around.
Reason to Worry: Yes, Serena is the best, but not every day. Parisian clay is slower than the stuff in Charleston or Madrid, and she’s always vulnerable to off days and foul moods. Each year she says she’s ready to win the French; each year she gets knocked off somewhere along the way.
The Last Word: Even when she wins Slams, she usually has to survive a very close call along the way; when will it come in 2012?