The French Open has been Serena Williams’ most challenging major—it’s the only Grand Slam tournament she hasn’t won more than once—but clay has evoked the creativity in her game. She’s hitting her slice serve out wide to set up her first strike effectively, she’s working the width of the court playing short, sharp angles, and is backing up opponents behind the baseline with the depth of her drives and deploying the drop shot more frequently. The 2002 French Open champion’s biggest challenge may come from within. Williams wants so badly to reclaim Roland Garros, she played tight, tentative tennis in suffering her first career Grand Slam first-round exit at the French Open last year.
What to Like:
The world No. 1 roars into Roland Garros on a career-best 24-match winning streak, she’s the most complete player in the field, and she has posted a 16-0 clay-court record this year and a 33-1 mark on dirt since the start of the 2012 clay season.
What Not to Like:
Clay can blunt the sting of her serve and her desire to regain the Roland Garros title she last won in 2002 has spiked self-imposed pressure: She suffered a first-round meltdown to 111th-ranked Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano in the first round last year.
What to Expect:
It’s been a decade since her last trip to the final four, but Serena is playing some of the best tennis of her career right now, she’s won two of the last three majors and you know she’ll be pumped up for a title run in Paris.
2013 French Open Profiles: