Remember when Serena Williams lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open, her last Grand Slam event?
Perhaps the globe has a foggy memory of that event because of the jaw-dropping performance from Williams on Sunday to open the 2014 iteration of the French Open. One 6-2, 6-1 shellacking of Alize Lim later, and it is quite clear the best in the world is in top form and ready to run the bracket at Roland Garros.
Of course, it's not as if many expected the opening match to be a tough affair for Williams. That includes Lim, whose reaction to the initial draw said it all:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh !!!!!!....— Alizé Lim (@AlizeLim) May 23, 2014
It was classic Williams throughout. She broke serve on two of four attempts in the first set and aged like a fine wine in the second with four aces, five net points won and a reduction in unforced errors from 23 to 13.
With the win, Williams moved to 53-2 on clay courts since 2012, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press. If that's not a scary indication of what she is about to do to the field, nothing is. Much of Williams' new-found skills on clay can be credited to defense, as explained by Hall of Famer Chris Evert, via Liz Clarke of The Washington Post:
She has improved her defense skills; she has always had the offense skills. She’s more fit. She’s moving better. She is patient with herself. She doesn’t have to go for the winner on the fourth shot. She can wait eight or nine shots and go for the opening. She’s more intelligent and thinking more clearly on the clay than she ever has.
That field includes sister Venus in the third round, should both advance that far. That will pose a bit of trouble for Serena, as she told Fendrich:
"It never gets easier. She's essentially the love of my life, so it's definitely difficult."
Well, maybe. Williams going against Lim was also allegedly tough to do, as explained by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times:
Serena Williams beats her buddy Alize Lim 6-2, 6-1 to start her French Open title defense. Never easy playing a friend, and it showed. #RG14— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 25, 2014
If that wasn't easy, it's time to start feeling bad for Venus. Then again, perhaps Serena makes it merciful on those she cares for and ends it quickly.
Will Williams win her third French Open?
Alas, the aforementioned field after Venus is not all that intimidating. The 2012 French Open champion Maria Sharapova is slated to encounter Williams in the quarterfinals. Serena holds a 16-2 head-to-head advantage.
Simply put, Williams is too far ahead of the rest of the pack to bat an eyelash at such a dominant showing, or any of the competition she will have to encounter. There is not one player in Paris who can stop Williams from gaining her 18th Grand Slam title, which will tie her with the Hall of Fame duo Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth place on the coveted all-time list.
So instead of praying for Williams' downfall, simply enjoy the ride. She certainly will, sans a potentially brief dance with her sister.