Sports

Serena Williams sets up French Open date with old foe Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams sets up French Open date with old foe Maria Sharapova

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will renew their bitter 14-year rivalry in the French Open last 16 on Monday, with the American dominating their record 19-2.

"For once, I have nothing to lose", 36-year-old Williams said after her 6-3, 6-4 victory over 11-seed Julia Goerges on Saturday. I lost the first set and thought I must try harder, I must try harder and then Serena came out.

"I think what speaks for itself is that desire to keep doing that and the knowledge that we have that - that is still the driving force for everything we do".

"Whenever I play her, I go out there the way I play everyone else".

"And then the book was a lot about me! I was surprised about that, to be honest", Williams said.

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"I knew I had to play well against a tough opponent. She's so young, I don't really bring her".

The 31-year-old Russian, who is seeded 28th after missing the French Open the last two years, will next play the victor of the third-rounder between 23-time major champion Williams and 11th-seeded Julia Goerges. Sharapova's last win over Serena came in the 2004 WTA Championships.

But both are on the road back towards the top of the sport after their recent absences.

"I'm concerned how that's going to work out for me, because normally in Grand Slams I do spend a lot of time at the site".

But her movement around the court is not as slick as she would like - she has played only five singles matches since becoming a mother to Alexis Olympia.

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The 29-year-old's game is based on big serving and her big forehand. "I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go".

Standing in her way next is two-time champion Sharapova in what will be their earliest meeting at a tournament since Wimbledon 2010.

"Any time you play against Serena you know what you're up against", said the 31-year-old Sharapova.

Asked how it would feel to return to a main show court for her third-round match, she replied: "Do you know the schedule?"

"I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best player", the five-time grand slam victor said. "But sometimes it's not what it takes to win a match, and I think you have to kind of take care of your service games, and I have to serve better than I have been and take care of the return". She cruised to victory from there, and celebrated with one of many first pumps, a smile, and a wave to the crowd. If I'm not practicing, we're hanging out.

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"I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon", she wrote in her 2017 autobiography "Unstoppable: My Life So Far". Serena continues to chip away rust and seems to be sharper each time she takes the court. "Love you all!" she captioned a photo on Tuesday.


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