Battersby: But as Simona Halep has observed, the debate about women returning to the Tour from childbirth “is about so much more than tennis”. That principle will be fuelling Serena’s fire at Roland-Garros, where she has, after all, lifted the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen three times, by comparison with Vika’s one semi-final in 2013. Not for nothing does Serena’s Twitter bio declare: “Working to help you.” Her stature as a 23-time Grand Slam champion gives her a unique platform as a women’s advocate, which she takes hugely seriously. Wearing trainers rather than crippling heels beneath her glorious Valentino gown at the Royal Wedding evening reception only proves it all the more – both by its delicious wit in the context of the occasion, and the recognition that renewed competitive combat was mere days away.
Imhoff: Renewed competitive combat that would last mere days, you mean? No less would that same principle fuel Vika’s fire, only further compounded by the fact she has been stuck in the US unable to play until Indian Wells but with ample time to work on her fitness. The timing of their comebacks is everything for both women and if this was not clay but another surface, where there are more cheap points on serve, I would say you could back Serena in making a deeper run, regardless of whether her fitness was back up to scratch. The kind of cardio needed to stick it out in longer rallies on clay gives Vika a clear advantage in being able to string together more matches back-to-back at this point in time.