In the long storied history of the French Open, few men or women have been more successful on the red clay of Stade de Roland Garros than Chris Evert. She holds a record 9 French Open titles, 7 singles championships and 2 doubles. Evert’s 94–15 record at the French Open is the best winning percentage in the history of the event.
This week Evert will be covering the French Open for ESPN and spring time in Paris has always been special for the woman the media dubbed the, “The Queen of Clay.” Thursday via phone we talked about the 2013 Women’s draw and who might take the title.
JW: Serena Williams has played well as of late. Is she the favorite?
Evert:”It has 11 years since she has won here so I think it’s long overdue, her second French Open win. She has improved tremendously on the clay. We talk about how she’s improved her game. But in my mind I’m impressed with how consistent she’s become and how patient she’s become and how she’s harnessing that power to be not only an effective clay court player but a tremendous clay court player. I think she will win her second French Open, yes.”
JW: Who will challenge her?
Evert:”Well you can never rule out Maria Sharapova, after all she is the defending champion so she is worthy of consideration. Then you have Victoria Azarenka who over the years has given Serena fits on clay. They really are the two who figure to give her the biggest challenge.”
JW: How can you beat Serena on clay?
Evert:” I don’t think it’s going to take a player to overpower her. First of all, I don’t think anybody out there can overpower her. The thing that we have to remember is this is still Serena’s weakest surface. Let’s not lose sight of that. She has to, as she said in her own press conferences, she has to remain really consistent, cut down on the errors. She likes to go for her shots. This is where she’s transformed herself into a better clay court player.
If there was a player that came out of the blue that was crafty, had a great drop shot, had some great short angling to get her off the baseline, bring her up to the net, I think that’s the only chance that anybody has to beat her.
But now that I think of it that could be Li Na, she has won a French Open and she plays that type of game I just mapped out against Serena. They only problem for her could be the power of Serena’s serve or backhand. I think I will go with Li Na as my dark horse in the tournament.
That said I still think we will see Serena at Centre Court holding the French Open trophy in two weeks time.”