Be afraid. Be very afraid. Serena Williams looks as if she is only gaining strength from every victory at Roland-Garros 2018. In the third round she brushed aside the No.11 seed Julia Goerges 6-3 6-4, to set up an enticing last 16 meeting with her old foe Maria Sharapova.
Serena breezes into fourth round
The three-time Roland-Garros champion dismissed No.9 seed Julia Goerges in relaxed style.
In her post-match press conference, Williams had plenty to say about the Russian in response to Sharapova’s 2017 autobiography Unstoppable, much of which was given over to Williams.
“I think the book was 100% hearsay, which was a little bit disappointing,” said Serena. "The book was a lot about me. I didn't expect to be reading a book about me, that wasn't necessarily true. I didn't know she looked up to me that much or was so involved in my career.
“We are each on a comeback for two totally different reasons. I was one of the few people when she had her whole drug incident [Sharapova received a one-year suspension from the Tour for use of the banned substance meldonium] that said that she was brave to say something. I didn't have anything negative to say about Maria.
“I don't have any negative feelings towards her, which again was a little disappointing to see in that hearsay book. Especially having a daughter, I feel negativity is taught. Women especially should encourage each other, and the success of one female should be the inspiration to another, and I have said that a thousand times. I have never had any hard feelings toward her.
“Quite frankly, she's probably a favorite in this match. She's been playing for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings, and this will be another test. This is one of her best surfaces, and she always does really well here. It will be a good opportunity for me to see where I am and hopefully continue to go forward.”
Williams did also find time briefly to reflect on her rapidly improving form. At Indian Wells in March, she described herself as being “on a scale of one to Serena, still on the S”. The 23-time Grand Slam champion smiled at the reminder and said: “I’m definitely off the S at least, but there is still a way to go. It’s moving in the right direction and I know I will get there. Every match I play I’m getting better, playing tougher opponents and hanging in there.”
Eight years ago here Williams dismissed Goerges in under an hour, and the fact that the clock ticked on to 75 minutes this time mattered very little. With evening shadows lengthening on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, Goerges was reliant on her serve – she leads the WTA list for aces hit this year, adding 11 in this match to bring her season’s tally to 223. But all too early, the 23-time Grand Slam champion began reading the delivery.
Moreover, Goerges' challenge to her opponent's serve early in the second set proved fleeting, and what damage she could muster was not sufficiently consistent. For the sixth Grand Slam in a row, the German succumbed to a player ranked outside the top 30. Meanwhile Williams has that look which champions wear… the more they win, the hungrier they get.