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Serena remain top favorite at Roland Garros
By Richard Pagliaro
May 21 2003
Tennis Week

Serena Williams will begin this year's French Open the same way she ended last year's tournament — on top. The reigning Roland Garros champion has been named the top seed in the woman's draw.

Serena remains the favorite to claim her fifth straight Slam title. Despite the fact both of her losses have come on clay this year — she was beaten by Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne in the Family Circle Cup final and was two points from victory before succumbing to Amelie Mauresmo in the Rome semifinals on Saturday — don't bet against Williams making another victory speech in French this year. Throughout the past year, Williams has combined her champion's heart with a fighter's mentality that makes her even more dangerous coming off a loss. Clay may be her least favorite surface, but her awesome all-court arsenal, sensational speed and deep desire to succeed make it likely Williams will be unveiling a Mona Lisa smile to accompany another title trophy by tournament's end.

If Williams proves vulnerable the two players who may have the best shot to dethrone the defending champion are Belgians Justine Henin-Hardenne and Kim Clijsters. By virtue of her second seed, Clijsters can avoid a possible Serena showdown until the final. The 2001 tournament runner-up is coming off a victory in Rome and Clijsters' consistency, toughness and tenacity make her a title threat.

As the first player to beat Williams this year, the fourth-seeded Henin-Hardenne showed the ability to both attack intelligently and defend defiantly in the face of Williams' power. With an impressively improved serve and forehand, the Belgian with the beautiful backhand should advance to at least the semifinals should she play to her ability. Henin-Hardenne will be intent on improving on her illness-induced first-round exit last year.

Striving to meet the expectations of French fans, fifth-seeded French woman Amelie Mauresmo has hardly felt at home at Roland Garros. She has turned in her least successful Slam efforts at Roland Garros, falling in the first or second round in six of her eight career appearances. Looking almost paralyzed at times in striving to live up to the the pressure as France's best hope for the title, Mauresmo needs to relax, focus and play the type of tennis that has enabled her to reach the Australian Open final and the semis at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

A pair of former French Open champions — Monica Seles and Jennifer Capriati — could enjoy varying degrees of success. The 2001 Roland Garros champion, Capriati is seeded seventh. Throughout the spring, she's shown signs she can elevate her game, but fitness remains a question mark as Capriati has shown signs of fatigue against top players this year.

Three-time French Open champion Seles is the 12th seed and while this fierce fighter and fan favorite cannot be counted out, she is hobbled by a recurring strained right arch, which further diminishes her already limited movement.
 

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How could these stupid journalists ignore Venus being one of the
players to win Roland Garros.
Every year, from 2000 to 2003, Henin, Clijsters and Mauresmo have
been considered to win this. But in fact one them had reached the
final which happened to be Clijsters.
Wacht out for Williams final or a williams victory this year again. And my
guess is Venus Williams.
 
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