Serena Williams is fresh off a January win at the Australian Open and her 19th Grand Slam title. With the 2015 French Open looming in late May, Williams is just three big wins away from Steffi Graf’s career record of 22 Grand Slam titles.
"I would love to get to 22," Williams told reporters after Australian Open win. "But I have to get to 20 first, and then I have to get to 21... There are so many wonderful young players coming up, so it will be a very big task."
The French Open, which in 2015 begins on May 24 and concludes June 7, is the second slam of the year. It is also historically Williams’ worst Grand Slam event. She’s only won twice (2002 and 2013) on the red clay at Roland Garros in Paris. The 33-year-old has reached the finals in just those two times, and has been bounced in the third round or earlier on four different occasions.
Williams is coming off a shocking loss in her last appearance at the French Open, falling to Spain's Garbine Mugurza in the second round 6-2 6-2. Williams may view this year's tournament as a comeback of sorts, as she chases Graf's record.
Despite mixed results at Roland Garros, Williams remains the favorite, with her odds at a best-in-field 5/2 to win the tournament, according to bovada.lv. Her only slightly disappointing results on red clay notwithstanding, Williams is No. 1 in the world for a reason.
Age has not caught up to the American, as Williams has remained in dominant form in the end of 2014 and all of 2015. She played the Australian Open while battling a cough and outright sickness, even vomiting during a rain delay. Yet she blew by Maria Sharapova 6-3, 7-6 in the final to win her 19th slam trophy. Williams has beaten rival Sharapova a staggering 16 straight times. The Russian star has the second-best odds (4/1) to win at Roland Garros. Sharapova is followed by Simona Halep (9/2), Eugenie Bouchard (7/1) and Victoria Azarenka (7/1) to round out the top five.
There might be others who could pose a threat to Williams. Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic has failed to thrive on clay, but the 25-year-old is coming off some gains in 2014, losing to Halep in the Madrid semifinals after three sets. Andrea Petkovic showed promise in 2014, reaching the semifinals before falling to Halep, and after defeating former finalist Sara Errani.
But Williams' motivation should be high after her loss to Muguruza, and she showed few signs of her knee bothering her after he win in Melbourne. Williams also may feel comfortable in her surroundings, and some added support from the Roland Garros spectators.
"I love Paris," she said, after winning the 2013 title. "I spend a lot of time here. I live here. I practice here.
"I think I am a Parisian."