Serena Williams powers into fourth round at French Open with straight-sets victory over Danielle Collins as the draw opens up for the 23-time Grand Slam champion
- The 39-year-old is one of just four top 10 seeds left in the women’s draw
- The American seventh seed will now face Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina
- She is bidding to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam triumphs
What had looked like primarily a Wimbledon warm-up for Serena Williams is suddenly starting to resemble a tantalising opportunity.
She is through to the last 16 of the French Open and, due to a combination of upsets and off-stage events, the 39-year-old American has emerged as the highest seeded player left in her half of the draw.
On Friday she produced her best performance of the season to defeat her compatriot Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-4 to make the fourth round.
Serena Williams powered confidently into the fourth round of the French Open
The surprise defeat of third seed Aryna Sabalenka — and with Naomi Osaka departed for other reasons — puts her on schedule for the next Saturday.
She faces Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, who was already making submissive noises about what it would feel like to meet a legend.
Williams quickly mounted an exercise in limiting expectations but could not hide her delight at how she had played in coming back from 4-1 down in the second set to win comfortably. ‘There’s still a lot of matches, a lot of great players left, as we can see,’ she said.
The 39-year-old was close to her best as she brushed aside fellow American Danielle Collins
‘There’s so much depth in this game now, it doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the first round, you really have to fight for every match and nothing comes easy.’
Wimbledon this year has appeared to be the best, and perhaps final, chance for her to win an elusive 24th Grand Slam title. While she did not say it, being relatively unfancied on clay might be helping her.
The biggest threat in her half could turn out to be Victoria Azarenka, beaten in last year’s US Open final. It will not be the ferocious Sabalenka, whose dreadful performances in Grand Slams continued as she went down 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.