Serena Williams is unquestionably one of the most dominant women's tennis players of all time, but she has never been particularly adept on clay. Williams is cruising at the Madrid Open after a 6-1, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Maria Sharapova, however, and that makes her a favorite in the upcoming French Open.
Over the course of her illustrious career Williams has won 13 Grand Slams, but only one of those was at Roland Garros. The clay surface tends to favor smaller and quicker players as opposed to heavy hitters like Serena, but her talent is portable in that it can get the job done on any court, and she is proving that in Spain.
Williams continued her dominance over Sharapova, as she beat her for the seventh consecutive time and did it without breaking much of a sweat. Williams and Sharapova have similar games in that they are better on grass or hard courts, but Serena looked far more comfortable on Friday than Sharapova.
The consistency of the court in Madrid is different than it's going to be in France, as they are utilizing a much-maligned blue clay during the Madrid Open—but it is still far different from grass or clay. Williams' movement appears to be extremely good, as she is as healthy as she has been in quite some time, which should make her a force to be reckoned with.
There are always some questions about Serena's commitment when it comes to non-Grand Slam tournaments, but her win over Sharapova proves that she is locked in and ready for the French. There is always the threat of a letdown somewhere along the way, but when Serena is playing consistently great tennis like she is now, there may not be anyone who can beat her.
As good as Williams is, it isn't often that she looks this impressive on clay, so her success at the Madrid Open shouldn't just be shrugged off as insignificant. She'll be a part of a very wide-open field at the French Open, and since there is no truly dominant player in the tournament to stop her, you have to believe that Serena will be considered the favorite.
Although Serena isn't old by any means at 30 years of age, that is considered to be the twilight of many tennis players' careers. She has been playing at a high level for a very long time, she always has injuries to deal with and she has outside interests as well, so there's really no telling how many more opportunities Williams might have to win Grand Slams.
Her opportunities are even fewer and farther between when it comes to the French Open because it's rare that she is in this good of form on clay. This may represent the best chance that Williams has to win the French Open for the remainder of her career, so it is extremely important that she take advantage of it.
She has been absolutely spectacular in the Madrid Open, and as long as she continues to play this way in the coming weeks, Williams could very well be adding some more hardware to her trophy case.