Paris: Five reasons why 17-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams can be beaten at the French Open:
Serena Williams. Pic/ AFP
At 32, Serena will be among the veterans at Roland Garros and, as has been seen with Roger Federer, age catches up with all tennis players eventually. She says that like good wine she improves with age, but a fortnight of bruising claycourt play at Roland Garros could turn that wine to vinegar.
Serena has been beset with injuries over the last few years although she was healthy for most of last year when she won in Paris and New York. A back injury hit her at the Australian open and she was forced out in Madrid two weeks ago with an injury to her left leg. Admits she is not 100% fit.
Clay always has been and will remain Serena's least favourite surface. Only two of her 17 Grand Slam titles came on clay in 2002 and last year and her movement on the red dirt has hardly improved over the years as she uses her power to compensate. The surface also takes some of the sting out of her big service game.
Serena loves Paris, but Paris has not always loved Serena. The centre-court faithful at Roland Garros have booed and jeered her before, notably against their favourites Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo, at times reducing her to tears. She won some converts last year by conducting her courtside interviews in French.
State of Mind
Known to be the most unforgiving opponent in women's tennis when she is in the mood, Serena can, at times, allow herself to become distracted and unfocused, as in her topsy-turvey quarter-final struggle against Svetlana Kuznetsova last year.