Serena Williams - queen of all she surveys
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Serena Williams is queen of all she surveys on the women’s circuit. Up on her pedestal, her rivals join with one voice to say she is their inspiration to better themselves so they can take her throne as world number one.
Contenders such as Angelique Kerber can take her titles such as the Australian Open but cannot boast the consistency to topple her.
The 34-year-old American approaches the French Open as defending champion. She will be seeking her 22nd grand slam singles title. Success will draw her level with Steffi Graf.
But victory in Paris isn’t as obvious as at the other grand slam venues. Only three of her 21 titles have come on the clay in Paris.
And the portents aren’t favourable. She has never successfully defended a title at Roland Garros. She’s managed to do so in Australia, at Wimbledon and the US Open.
Most analysts say she has no rival and her worst opponent is herself. The pressure appeared to get to her when she fell at the US Open semi-final in 2015 as she tried to win a calendar grand slam.
She appeared nervous in the final against Kerber at the Australian Open as she tried to equal Graf’s haul of titles.
Will it be the same again in Paris in 2016? And who will be available to profit from any instability?
Second seed Agnieszka Radwanska has not beaten her in their 10 matches since they first played in Berlin in 2008.
Victoria Azarenka appeared to have Williams’s numbear in the final of the Indian Wells tournament earlier this spring. It ended 6-4 6-4 to the former world number one from Belarus.
Whether she can repeat that intensity in Paris remains to be seen. Williams, now a darling of the French crowds due to her relationships with Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou and her ability to speak in French to the spectators after a match, will have the love the people.
That, and a known measure of force, is always good for a queen.
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