The 2024 clay-court swing has yielded numerous intriguing storylines, all of which are set to converge at Roland Garros next week.

Ahead of Thursday’s draw ceremony, two-time Roland Garros champion Martina Navratilova shared her thoughts on the second Grand Slam tournament of the season, and who is most likely to lift the trophy:

1. Will Novak Djokovic’s experience prevails in an unpredictable men’s field?

For nearly two decades, Rafael Nadal has as close to a lock to win Roland Garros as there is. Nut the 37-year-old, who is likely playing his final season, hasn’t looked in the form that helped him lift the Coupes des Mousquetaires a whopping 14 times.

Djokovic, Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz all head into Paris with their own uncertainties: Djokovic suffering a shock head injury in Rome, while Sinner and Alcaraz deal with physical issues.

“Maybe they [all] end up being a hundred percent, but we don’t know,” Navratilova said on the call. “The unknowns are pretty large right now, and obviously if injuries come into play, then Novak is an even bigger favorite to win.”

Navratilova will join Tennis Channel on the grounds at Roland Garros.

Navratilova will join Tennis Channel on the grounds at Roland Garros.


Djokovic is still a betting favorite due to his experience, and the 24-time Grand Slam champion aimed to generate some pre-RG buzz by accepting a wild card into a 250-level event in Geneva.

Can Djokovic, who is yet to win a title in 2024, make the most of a chaotic field and capture a fourth Roland Garros title?

“It’s been Novak against the field in all the majors other than Roland Garros,” Navratilova continued. “But now that Rafa is obviously not playing his best tennis, he’s the favorite even on the clay.”


2. Iga is more Evert than Nadal

Iga Swiatek heads to her favorite major with the highest ranking-point total since Serena Williams in 2015. The defending champion is coming off back-to-back titles at the Mutua Madrid Open and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and is a strong position to win a fourth Roland Garros.

Navratilova compared Swiatek’s dominance to that of Chris Evert, who won a record seven Roland Garros titles between 1974 and 1986.

“I’ve said it about Chris, it was hard to find an opening,” Navratilova said. “It’s really impossible to find an opening against Iga on clay. Right now she looks pretty unbeatable.”

While Nadal may be Swiatek’s idol, the world No. 1 still “got a long way to go” to be comparable, according to Navratilova.

“It’s not comparable because Rafa did 14 altogether, like 14 out of 16 or something ridiculous,” she said. “But she might catch up to Chris the way she’s going. She’s still really young. She got started earlier than either Rafa or Chris winning in Paris.”


3. Speaking of Chrissie: Navratilova wants more recognition for her friend and rival

This year marks 50 since Chris Evert won her first Grand Slam title—and it happened in Paris. How might the French Tennis Federation celebrate Evert’s anniversary?

“If Rafa has a statue there, then Chris should have a statue, also,” Navratilova said. “They can make room on the grounds, she’s the OG queen of clay.”

One of Navratilova’s favorite matches happened at Roland Garros in 1984, when she beat Evert in the final.

“That was one of the best wins for me…it was about beating Chris on clay in Paris,” she recalled. “I made history for myself and for tennis.”


4. Watch out for Collins in Paris

Last year we saw the Summer of Coco. This year, it's the Spring of Danielle. Collins earned her first WTA 1000 title in Miami, then won Charleston and gave Sabalenka real tests in Madrid and Rome. Their Rome collision was a semifinal, and she's gone deep in the Strasbourg tune-up, to boot.

“She would be my pick for a sneaky semifinal or final,” Navratilova said. “I know I wouldn’t want her in my draw.”

Collins heads into the tournament with only one American ranked ahead of her, Coco Gauff (after Jessica Pegula withdrew), and has effortlessly translated her game to clay.


5. The Olympic summer will bring out the best in the field

Roland Garros marks the beginning of a strenuous summer season that will take players through major tournaments in Paris and London—and then back to Paris for the Summer Olympic Games. Throw in the US Open in New York, and “you basically have four majors in two or three months, not much breathing space there,” Navratilova said.

Adapting to the surfaces isn’t going to be as tough as the mental and physical challenges ahead, said the former No. 1. Clay is generally easier on the body, so going from clay to grass back to clay isn’t the worst scenario.

“The game is more physical [than when I was on tour] and the Olympics don’t make it easier that’s for sure.”

Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bencic won the Men's and Women's Singles at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bencic won the Men's and Women's Singles at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.


“[Everyone] is gunning for the Olympic gold, but it’s hard to imagine that they’ll all be fresh as a daisy come the US Open,” she continued. “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that people get through it.”

At the first leg of this summer-long stretch of majors and Olympics, Navratilova is most cautious about the injuries coming out of the season, and most excited for the highest level of tennis still to come.

“If everybody is healthy, then I think it could be, should be an interesting tournament,” she said. “I think it’ll be fascinating anyway to see who comes through.”