Ever since she won the Australian Open for the seventh time back in 2017, Serena Williams’ career has been characterized by whether she will catch Margaret Court’s record of all-time Grand Slam titles with 24. Sitting at 23, Williams has come close to hitting Court’s mark, appearing in the US Open final as recently as 2019, where she fell to Bianca Andreescu.
Williams, 39, has fallen short so many times since 2017 that some have begun to wonder whether she is ever going to tie Court’s mark.
Well, there’s now renewed optimism for Williams’ chances to catch Court at the 2021 French Open, where she’s won the fewest Grand Slam titles in her career (a “mere” three times, compared to six at the US Open and seven at Wimbledon and Australian Open.) She reached the fourth round at Roland Garros on Friday, and many of the top-10 seeds in the tournament are already out.
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American No. 4 Sofia Kenin is the highest-seeded player remaining.
As for where the top three went, top-seeded Ashleigh Barty had to retire due to injury in the second round, No. 2 seed Simona Halep withdrew from the tournament on May 21 because of a calf injury and the third seed, Naomi Osaka, withdrew after she said she wouldn’t speak to the media so she could protect her mental health.
Outside of the top three seeds, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova suffered an upset against Sloane Stephens, No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka fell to No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Andreescu — Williams’ 2019 US Open opponent — fell in the first round and Petra Kvitova was forced to withdraw after hurting her ankle during “post-match press requirements.”
Williams is slated to face No. 21 Elena Rybakina on Sunday in the fourth round of the competition. It mark the first time in three years that the American legend has made it this far at the French Open. It’s always worth noting that upsets are totally within the realm of possibility, but things do seem to be lining up for Williams to have a crack at Court’s record.