Williams, Sharapova poised for last-16 duel, Tennis News & Top Stories

Ivanka Trump calls on women's tennis to change maternity leave rules for Serena Williams

Returning to the French Open for the first time since giving birth to a baby girl last September, Williams is now ranked No. 453 in the WTA rankings, making her road to a fourth French Open championship hard. "So I think she will come back and she will be good again".

Serena Williams serves to Marion Bartol during their TieBreak Tens tennis match at Madison Square Garden.

Serena was 31 at the time of her second French Open in 2013, 11 years after her first.

The 21-year-old German, who is seeded second in the absence of Roger Federer, begins his French Open against Ricardis Berankis of Lithuania.

Williams took 14 months off from the WTA Tour subsequent to winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant.

As a result of being unseeded, Williams will have to face tougher opponents earlier in the French Open than a player of her caliber usually would.

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Right from the off the drama will unfold with a first-round clash between 2016 champion and third seed Garbine Muguruza and 2009 victor Svetlana Kuznetsova - a match that will set the tone for what promises to be a compelling women's tournament.

In Rome last week, Sharapova spoke up in support of her long-time rival.

But the elegant and powerful Muguruza is not anxious. She said that it would be a nice change for female tennis players who want to take on the joys of motherhood. "You move on faster. In the last six weeks I see an improvement in her game". The WTA is also reviewing its rules on using special seeding for next season.

After beating Williams in the 2016 final, Muguruza's title defense was ended in the fourth round previous year by local favorite Kristina Mladenovic of France in front of a partisan crowd at Court Suzanne Lenglen. To become a mother, she subsequently went over a year without playing an official match, letting her ranking fall outside the Top 400.

"Of course being the defending champion for the first time, it adds a lot of pressure and expectation, and for sure this year you think different", Muguruza said. If she beats Kuznetsova, she could meet Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russian Federation in the third round, then possibly meet American CoCo Vandeweghe, who recently made it to the final in Stuttgart.

Even Agatha Christie would have struggled to hatch a plot as thick as this year's French Open women's singles with world number one Simona Halep attempting to finally win a grand slam with danger lurking everywhere.

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