Serena Williams Will Continue Impressive Run with Win at French Open

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2013

ROME, ITALY - MAY 19:  Serena Williams of the USA holds the winners trophy aloft after her straight sets victory against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in their final match during day eight of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre  on May 19, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Serena Williams has been a force in 2013, and you can expect her to run through her opponents at the French Open with relative ease.

It's hard to believe that around this same time last year, Williams was getting bounced by Virginie Razzano in the first round at Roland Garros. It was the nadir in what was an underwhelming beginning to 2012.

Fast forward to this year, and Williams is coming in much more dominant and primed for her second French Open win.

The clay of Roland Garros has never been too kind to Williams. The single win is her fewest among the four Grand Slams, and she hasn't gotten further than the quarterfinals since 2003.

It's a rather poor run for Williams and belies her consistency in the other three major tournaments.

Whether it's a lack of motivation or health problems, Williams had a hard time over the past few years getting everything to click on the court.

Part of what has gotten Williams to the top of women's tennis is her insatiable drive to be the best. That's led her at times to be very prickly with fans, media and other players—just ask Sloane Stephens. However, in the buildup to the tournament, Williams has been very different, much more open and content with her progress (h/t Simon Cambers of The Guardian):

"I felt this past year I had nothing to lose and just really wanted to enjoy my career," she said. "In the past when I played I was always so stressed out and always wanted to win, win, win. Now I'm definitely having a lot more fun than I used to on the court and really enjoying every moment of me walking out there. That definitely makes a big difference."

A dialed-in Williams has to be frightening for her competition. Even when she isn't at her best, Williams can be the best women's singles player in the world. At her peak, she's untouchable.

Just think back to how great Williams was during the 2012 Olympics. She made Sharapova look like some unranked nobody who has never played professional tennis. It was some of the most dominant tennis you're ever going to see.

Then she concluded her 2012 by winning the U.S. Open.

It's a superb run of form Williams has carried into this year, Australian Open aside. ESPN's Chris Fowler was particularly impressed with the way she performed at the Rome Masters:

She beat Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3 in the final after dropping a paltry 10 games in the previous four rounds.

Considering she's 31 years old, it's amazing to see how high a level at which Williams remains. Normally a player hitting his or her 30s means a quick decline into mediocrity. Williams, on the other hand, remains almost as good as she was in her prime.

There's no reason to start questioning Williams' chances now.

Losing to Stephens at the Australian Open hurt, but you could see Williams was not herself. Her back was giving her problems, and she was visibly in pain. That's not to take credit away from Stephens but rather to explain what was the worst performance for Williams so far in 2013.

Despite that disappointment at the Australian Open, she has to be considered the prohibitive favorite for the French Open.