FRENCH OPEN 2021: Serena back after injury; Swiatek defends

·4-min read
FILE - These are 2020 and 2021 file photos showing, from left, tennis players Ashleigh Barty, Sofia Kenin, Naomi Osaka, Iga Swiatek and Serena Williams. The 2021 French Open begins Sunday, May 31.(AP Photo/File)

Women to watch at the French Open, which starts Sunday in Paris:

___

ASH BARTY

Ranked: 1

Country: Australia

Age: 25

2021 Match Record: 27-5

2021 Singles Titles: 3

Career Singles Titles: 11

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2019)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-Did Not Play, 2019-Won Championship, 2018-Lost in 2nd Round, 2017-Lost in 1st Round, 2016-Did Not Play

Aces: Did not try to defend her 2019 championship in Paris last year, staying home in Australia because of the coronavirus pandemic. ... Stopped during a match at the Italian Open this month because of a right arm issue.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 17-year-old American Coco Gauff in the fourth round.

Words: “It’s important to play the points in the right way, regardless of the score and also regardless of the result.” — Barty.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 5-1

—-

NAOMI OSAKA

Ranked: 2

Country: Japan

Age: 23

2021 Match Record: 13-3

2021 Singles Titles: 1

Career Singles Titles: 7

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 4 — Australian Open (2: 2019, 2021), U.S. Open (2: 2018, 2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-DNP, 2019-3rd, 2018-3rd, 2017-1st, 2016-3rd

Aces: Says she won't participate in news conferences at Roland Garros. ... 2020 AP Female Athlete of the Year. ... All of her Grand Slam titles have come on hard courts. ... Sat out last year's French Open after winning the U.S. Open while dealing with a hamstring issue.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova or 2016 semifinalist Kiki Bertens in the fourth round.

Words: “I’ve watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they’re down and I don’t understand the reasoning behind it.” — Osaka.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 17-1

—-

SOFIA KENIN

Ranked: 5

Country: United States

Age: 22

2021 Match Record: 7-8

2021 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 5

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — Australian Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-Runner-Up, 2019-4th, 2018-1st, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP

Aces: Entered Paris last year coming off a 6-0, 6-0 loss in Rome in her only tuneup match and went all the way to the final, her first on red clay at tour level. ... Announced in May she no longer would be coached by her father, Alex.

Matchup to Watch For: Faces 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the first round.

Words: “We both kind of agreed that it was time to part ways." — Kenin, on the coaching change.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 55-1

—-

SERENA WILLIAMS

Ranked: 8

Country: United States

Age: 39

2021 Match Record: 9-3

2021 Singles Titles: 0

Career Singles Titles: 73

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — French Open (3: 2002, 2013, 2015), Australian Open (7: 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), Wimbledon (7: 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), U.S. Open (6: 1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-2nd, 2019-3rd, 2018-4th, 2017-DNP, 2016-RU

Aces: Withdrew from French Open last year before second round because an Achilles injury. ... Went nearly three full months without competing after semifinal loss to Osaka at Australian Open. ... Lost opener in return at Rome in May, then took a wild-card entry for a small tournament in Parma, Italy, to get more work on red clay and went 1-1 there. ... 76-1 in first-round Slam matches; lost in Paris in 2012. ... Holds record for most major singles titles in the professional era; one more would equal Margaret Court for most in tennis history.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face three-time major champion and former No. 1 Angelique Kerber in the third round.

Words: “I was meant to be Serena and I didn’t know that I was meant to be Serena. But I embrace it and I love it and I work hard for it. I work hard to carry that name because it takes a lot of work — on the court, off the court, mentally — in everything that I do." — Williams.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 21-1

—-

IGA SWIATEK

Ranked: 9

Country: Poland

Age: 19 (Turns 20 on Monday)

2021 Match Record: 19-5

2021 Singles Titles: 2

Career Singles Titles: 3

Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open (2020)

Last 5 French Opens: 2020-W, 2019-4th, 2018-DNP, 2017-DNP, 2016-DNP

Aces: Entered last year's French Open ranked 54th, without a tour-level title of any sort and never having been past the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament — then won the championship without dropping a set along the way. ... Tuned up this time by winning clay-court title in Rome.

Matchup to Watch For: Could face 2016 champion Garbiñe Muguruza in the fourth round.

Words: “It’s not easy to be a defending champion. I’m just happy that I’m in a situation like that. I can enjoy being there, just being in Paris, because I love playing there. ” — Swiatek.

FanDuel Sportsbook Title Odds: 14-5

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting