Despite a recent dominant stretch over her competition, Serena Williams has history against her at Roland Garros.
Not only has she not won the French Open since 2002, she hasn’t even advanced past the quarterfinals since. Factor in the struggles of No. 1 seeds on the French Open's clay courts and suddenly Williams’ title seems less than a foregone conclusion.
Just one top seed has won the women’s title there since 1997.
Keep in mind that history is broken every day in sports. There is no reason to discredit her chances just because of that. However, it’s hard to ignore those daunting numbers.
She does have some very important things working in her favor too.
Williams received the best-case-scenario when draws were announced for the women’s singles tournament. She will play in a different group than Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Li Na and other top competitors.
Caroline Wozniacki and Adnieszka Radwanska are her biggest threats to reaching the finals, but neither has impressed on clay this season.
Plus she has been lights out on the court this year and for much of last season, beginning with her gold medal performance at the London Olympics.
Let’s put her dominance in perspective for a minute.
After capturing gold, winning the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, Williams has been nearly flawless in 2013. She is currently 3-0 in clay-court tournaments and has an impressive 36-2 record this season.
That record includes two finals victories over Sharapova and Azarenka during the last month.
Those wins have extended a 24-match winning streak. During that span, she has captured four consecutive titles.
Still, her first-round shocker to Virginie Razzano last year at Roland Garros is fresh in our minds.
That early-round upset has to be very fresh in her mind too. It was an embarrassment and probably a critical factor that sparked her dominant run. She’s unlikely to come into the French Open with anything less than complete and total focus to avoid a similar finish.
A focused and on-fire Serena Williams isn’t someone anyone wants to meet, in any round, of a Grand Slam tournament.
She still has to prove it on the court, and that’s exactly what she’s going to do.