Serena Williams Will Have Strong Showing at French Open Despite Past Struggles

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2013

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 12:  Serena Williams of the US reacts during her final match against Maria Sharapova of Russia on day nine of the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament at the Caja Magica  on May 12, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Serena Williams has dominated tennis for more than a decade, but the French Open has always been a problem. That will not be the case this time around.

The American has won an incredible 15 Grand Slam tournaments in her career, which ranks her among the best of all time. She has won each of them at least once, although she has at least four career wins each at the Australian Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon.

However, Roland Garros has always caused issues. Williams has not won there in singles play since 2002 and has not even reached the semifinals since 2003. Last year, she lost in the first round to unseeded Virginie Razzano.

Throughout the years, the clay court has prevented her from truly utilizing her power, and she struggles to adjust. Fortunately, there is reason to believe the 2013 version will be different.

Primarily, it has been a long time since Williams was this confident in her overall game.

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She appeared to be nearing the end of her career in 2010 when a foot injury kept her out of play for almost a full year. She had mixed levels of success in that first season back, but it was clear she was still far from playing at her best.

That all changed at Wimbledon last year when Williams dominated the field on grass to win the event for the fifth time. She kept her momentum to win gold at the London Summer Olympics, followed by the U.S. Open and a host of other events.

All of a sudden, the most talented player in the world was starting to act like it.

Despite the early loss at the Australian Open, she once again has as much confidence as possible after her recent win at the Mutua Madrid Open. Her finals victory over Maria Sharapova marked 17 wins in a row overall to go with a 13-2 record against the Russian.

If these two were to face each other at the French Open, it is hard to imagine Sharapova having the mental strength to beat the veteran.

Of course, the physical tools have been just as impressive for Williams lately.

In the Madrid finals, she once again had a big discrepancy between her success on her first serve (won 74 percent of points) compared to her second serve (45 percent). However, this was not an issue because she was able to get 78 percent of her first serves in play.

This is obviously incredibly tough to replicate, but her accuracy was outstanding throughout the tournament. If she can be this successful on clay at Madrid, there is no reason why she cannot continue this type of play at Roland Garros.

Heading into the French Open, it is tough to imagine any top seeds knocking off the No. 1 player in the world. Sharapova has barley been competitive in head-to-head matches, while Victoria Azarenka has struggled even more than Williams in this event, never advancing past the quarterfinals.

The rest of the field is too inconsistent to trust against a dominant force like this.

Serena Williams is the best female tennis player in the world and has everything going her way heading into the French Open. There is nothing that should be able to stop her from winning the 16th Grand Slam title of her career.

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