Serena Williams is set to make her Grand Slam return at the French Open. Picture: Getty
Serena Williams is set to make her Grand Slam return at the French Open. Picture: Getty

Serena set for Grand Slam return, Stosur bows out

SERENA Williams is set to make her long-awaited Grand Slam return at the French Open, coach Patrick Mouratoglou says.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion has not competed in a major tournament since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant with daughter Alexis Olympia.

Williams has been training in France in preparation for the event, which begins on May 27, at Mouratoglou's tennis academy near Nice.

She was due to compete in tournaments in Madrid and Rome in preparation for Roland Garros but withdrew from both, casting doubt over her Grand Slam return.

But Mouratoglou says Williams will be ready and more than that, is capable of winning the title.

"Serena will play the French Open to win it," he said.

"Can she do it? Serena can achieve anything - after being her coach for six years, I'm even more sure of that statement."

Williams returned to the tour from maternity leave after a 14-month absence in March, to mixed results.

Mouratoglou revealed when Williams arrived to train with him in France late last month it became clear she wasn't ready to return the court, so it was decided she wouldn't play in Madrid or Rome.

But since then she has undertaken an intense training program to get herself ready to perform and to win.

"After her pregnancy, Serena had to rebuild her body," Mouratoglou told the WTA website.

"The time she lost after the delivery, with all the medical issues she had to go through, was missing.

"That is the reason why we decided to skip Madrid and Rome as she needed five weeks to be perfectly ready.

 

Williams has not played in a Grand Slam event since winning the Australian Open in January 2017.
Williams has not played in a Grand Slam event since winning the Australian Open in January 2017.

 

"So far, things are going very well. She is working extremely hard, she is improving in all the areas fast. I am very satisfied and confident that she will be ready for Roland Garros."

Williams, a three-time French Open champion, has not played since a first-round loss to Naomi Osaka at the Miami Open in March.

She also competed at Indian Wells and despite winning first and second-round matches, she was defeated by sister Venus in the third round.

"Serena clearly came back too early," Mouratoglou said.

"She was not ready yet but needed to feel the competition, so she decided to play even though she was far from being at 100 per cent.

"It was a good experience as she realised all the work that needed to be done in order for her to be really ready."

Roland Garros starts on May 27.

 

Sam Stosur has been defeated at the Italian Open. Picture: Getty
Sam Stosur has been defeated at the Italian Open. Picture: Getty

 

Stosur beaten in Italy

DARIA Gavrilova has advanced to the second round of the Italian Open but it wasn't such good news for former French Open finalist Samantha Stosur.

Gavrilova - the world No.24 - scored a hard-fought three-set win over Natalia Vikhlyantseva.

The world No.24 fought back from a set down to win 5-7 6-4 6-3 despite sending down 10 double faults against the 21-year-old from Russia, who is ranked 85th in the world.

Gavrilova faces a tough match next up in the form of reigning Wimbledon and 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.

Stosur lost to Belgium's Alison Van Uytvanck 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 6-2.

Australian No.1 Ashleigh Barty faces five-time grand slam winner Maria Sharapova on Tuesday.

Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic takes on Russian world No.13 Daria Kasatkina.

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