Uncertainty over Serena fitness, Osaka form at Roland Garros
Paris, May 23 : Serena Williams heads into this year’s French Open as an outsider for a Grand Slam title for possibly the first time in 20 years, with questions surrounding her fitness after a poor start to the season, while Naomi Osaka needs to rediscover her best form to solidify her position at the top of the women’s game with a third straight major crown.
The 37-year-old Williams is still waiting for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam triumph, with her last victory coming at the 2017 Australian Open shortly before taking a break from the sport due to pregnancy.
She impressed initially after returning, but last year twice fell just short of drawing level with Margaret Court’s mark, losing in the Wimbledon final to Angelique Kerber before her infamous meltdown en route to another final defeat by Osaka at Flushing Meadows.
Williams’ 2019 campaign has not gone to plan so far, with a series of injuries seeing her manage just four matches since her Australian Open quarter-final exit to Karolina Pliskova.
But she is confident her work off the court can help her find her best game in the biggest tournaments.
“I actually haven’t been able to train or practice a lot. I was out much longer than I expected,” admitted the three-time French Open champion last week in Rome, before pulling out of the tournament ahead of a second-round tie with sister Venus.
“But I did everything I could to stay fit. I knew that I love the clay season and I wanted to be a part of it.
“It’s not about today or tomorrow. For me obviously it’s about playing well at all the big moments… Obviously the Slams, etc, just getting ready for those events.