Serena Williams advances to round four as the draw begins at the French Open

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Serena Williams reaches fourth round at French Open with straight-set win over Danielle Collins as the draw begins for 23-time Grand Slam champion

  • The 39-year-old is one of only four top 10 seeds left in the women’s draw
  • The American seventh seed now takes on Elena Rybakina . from Kazakhstan
  • She bids to match Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam wins
  • Watch the French Open live on Eurosport and Eurosport app

What initially looked like a Wimbledon warm-up for Serena Williams suddenly begins to look like a tempting opportunity.

She has made it to the last 16 of the French Open and through a combination of disruptions and off-stage events, the 39-year-old American has emerged as the highest-ranking player in her half of the draw.

On Friday, she set her best performance of the season by beating compatriot Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

Serena Williams confidently entered the fourth round of the French Open

Aryna Sabalenka’s surprise defeat as third seed – and with Naomi Osaka leaving for other reasons – puts her on schedule for next Saturday.

She faces Elena Rybakina, Kazakhstan, who was already making submissive noises about what it would be like to meet a legend.

Williams quickly did an exercise in limiting expectations, but couldn’t hide her joy at how she’d played by coming back from 4-1 down in the second set to win comfortably. “There are still a lot of games, there are still a lot of great players left, as we can see,” she said.

The 39-year-old was close to her best when she pushed compatriot Danielle Collins aside

The 39-year-old was close to her best when she pushed compatriot Danielle Collins aside

The 39-year-old was close to her best when she pushed compatriot Danielle Collins aside

“There’s so much depth to this game now, it doesn’t matter if you play in the first round, you really have to fight for every game and nothing comes easy.”

Wimbledon looked like this year’s best, and arguably last, chance for her to win an elusive 24th Grand Slam title. Although she didn’t say it, it might help her if she wasn’t a fan of clay.

The biggest threat in her half could be Victoria Azarenka, who was beaten in the US Open final last year. It won’t be the ruthless Sabalenka, whose terrible performances in Grand Slams continued when she lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-0 to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

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