Despite playing in only four tournaments all season and a major slip up at the season’s first grand slam, No. 1 Serena Williams towers over all potential comers ahead of next week’s French Open in Paris.
The 34-year-old, who is one slam away from equaling Hall of Famer Steffi Graf’s record 22 career Grand Slams, is a 9/4 favorite to defend her French title with No. 6 Simona Halep and No. 5 Victoria Azarenka each listed as her main competitors at 5/1 odds, according to Sportsbook.ag.
Williams hasn’t started the season well, but her continued dominance of the support over the last decade is more than enough to make her the favorite at Roland Garros. The American fell to then-No. 7 Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open final in January, and followed up with a loss to Azarenka in the Indian Wells championship and a Round-of-16 letdown to Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami.
Due to a long bout with the flu, Williams would skip the next three tournaments and didn’t capture her first title of the year until last week’s hard fought 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over fellow American Madison Keys on Rome’s clay.
Prior to the Italian Open, Williams expounded on how confident she feels on the always-tricky surface.
"Right now I feel good when my feet first hit the clay," Williams said to CNN. "I always feel amazing because I love the clay. The day I lost in Miami (to Svetlana Kuznetsova) -- the next day I was on the clay courts. I didn't take a day off -- I feel good on clay."
The poor start to the season doesn’t necessarily mean Williams will falter early or even in the later stages at the French. Williams has won four of the last six slams and she’s 18-3 on the year, while in the build up to Roland Garros last year she withdrew from the Indian Wells semis matchup with Halep, claimed Miami’s title, then lost to Petra Kvitova at the Madrid semis, and again withdrew in the Round of 16 in Rome.
The slips didn’t really affect Williams when she arrived in Paris. Over her seven matches in the tournament Williams lost only five sets, and she’s won the tournament two of the last three years.
Halep might present the biggest challenge to Williams. The Romanian reached the final in 2014 and has performed well on clay this year. Halep won the Madrid Open with relative ease, surrendering just one set in six matches and defeating finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-4.
While she was upset on May 11 in the Italian Open's Round-of-32, Halep may benefit from the extended time away from the court to concentrate and rest up for Roland Garros.
Here are the latest odds for the women’s side of the 2016 French Open. The tournament begins Sunday, May 22.
Odds to Win 2016 French Open
Serena Williams 9/4
Simona Halep 5/1
Victoria Azarenka 5/1
Garbine Muguruza 10/1
Angelique Kerber 14/1
Petra Kvitova 20/1
Lucie Safarova 28/1
Cara Suarez Navarro 30/1
Timea Bacsinszky 33/1
Agnieszka Radwanska 40/1
Ana Ivanovic 40/1
Belinda Bencic 40/1
Eugenie Bouchard 40/1
Madison Keys 40/1
Sloane Stephens 40/1
The full list of futures odds can be found at Sportsbook.ag.