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On The Women's Side, The French Open Is Anyone's

Photo: Michael Steele/Getty

If the men’s winner of the French Open is a certitude—Rafael Nadal looks like a lock for his 10th title at Roland Garros—the women’s side is the opposite. Featuring an injured Simona Halep, the triumphant return of Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams off somewhere growing a human, no Maria Sharapova (controversially), a shaky world No. 1 in Angelique Kerber, and a handful of talented qualifiers, the tournament is ripe for the unexpected. But right now, the biggest question is if Halep, the world No. 4 who was favored to win at Roland Garros before her injury, will even play.

Halep injured her ankle in the first set of the final of the Italian Open, which she eventually lost in three sets to world No. 6 Elina Svitolina. Halep said on Wednesday that she had a torn ligament in her ankle and was 50/50 for the French Open.


Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova’s last-minute decision to play—just five months after an attacker slashed her playing hand, requiring surgery and throwing her career into doubt—earned her a No. 15 seed and a first-round match up against American Julia Boserup. In a press conference today, Kvitova said:

Of course the hand doesn’t have that power and the strength yet, but I’m working on it. [...] I’m happy that when I’m playing I don’t have pain in my hand. I haven’t tested it in a match, of course. Maybe it will be different when the nerves come and I’m going be tight and everything. But so far it’s okay.

Angelique Kerber, who has yet to win a title this year, has struggled on clay this season, failing to make it past the round of 16 in any of the three clay tournament she played, and most recently losing to Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit in Rome. Kerber drew Ekaterina Makarova in the first round, and though Makraova has won only four of the pair’s 11 matches, she’s put together a few big wins on clay this year, beating both Dominika Cibulkova and Roberta Vinci in Rome before losing to Kiki Bertens.

Then there’s Czech 17-year-old Marketa Vondrousova. She blazed through qualifying without dropping a set and will face France’s Amandine Hesse in the first round. Vondrousova is fresh off her first WTA tour win—she won the Swiss women’s championship in April, also without dropping a set. On her way to that title, she beat fellow Czechs world No. 3 Karolina Pliskova and No. 21 Barbora Strycova, as well as Kontaveit in the final. Though she’s only 17, Vondrousova plays with confidence beyond her years; of the 10 sets she won in Switzerland, three came in tiebreaks. Oh, and she’s unbelievably fast.


For the jingoists among you, the Americans in the draw are 10-seed Venus Williams and 12-seed Madison Keys, along with unseeded Boserup, Louisa Chirico, CiCi Bellis, Shelby Rogers, Jennifer Brady, Amanda Anisimova (who’s only 15!), Madison Brengle, Varvara Lepchenko, and qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands.


You can see the full draw here.

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