Serena Williams, Madison Keys – USA’s Women Contenders

The 2016 French Open draw will be announced early on Friday morning from Paris. While there will be numerous Americans in the draw, Serena Williams and Madison Keys are the two bright lights heading into the Grand Slam tournament.

Williams, as the World No. 1 and the defending champion, enters with major momentum following her victory in Rome last week. Prior to that Premier Mandatory event, she had not won a tournament since winning the 2015 Cincinnati event. Her drought spanned both the US Open and the Aussie, tournaments where she had an opportunity to equal Steffi Graf for 22 career major titles. Serena, who will be looking to make amends for losses in those tournaments, could claim what would amount to her fourth overall title from Roland Garros.

Sister Venus Williams is ranked 11th in the world right now, making her the American No. 2. However, despite her ranking she is not considered the second-most dangerous American in the Roland Garros draw. Even in her prime, Venus was rarely the force at Roland Garros that she was at both Wimbledon and the US Open. Her 2002 runner-up finish, which is ages ago now, still marks the only time she has made the French Open final.

Lower-ranked Madison Keys enters the tournament as the American second favorite. Keys finished runner-up in Rome last week through Petra Kvitova, Barbora Strycova, and Garbine Muguruza. Long considered the future of American tennis, Keys is poised to do some damage at Roland Garros and she remained upbeat even after the Rome loss:

“For me,” she said, “it really wasn’t so much about how big the tournament was or anything like that. It was really just wanting to go out and do my best and give my best performance.”

Keys is a player that will be watching the draw closely. As the World No. 17, she could end up with a fourth-round match against Serena, however Keys could also end up with something much softer.

Other Americans that are expected to be in the draw are Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe, Irina Falconi, Christina McHale, Madison Brengle, Varvara Lepchenko, Nicole Gibbs, Louisa Chirico, and more. In regard to Chirico, she is the top-seeded player in the qualifying draw and one win away from an entry. She could enter Roland Garros with some special intrigue as she just turned 20 years old and enjoyed a run to the Madrid semifinals through former World No. 1 and former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.

However, while the 2016 French Open draw will be deep in American entrants, only Serena and Keys enter as serious contenders. Williams is the outright betting favorite at 2 to 1 with bet365 while Keys is 7th favorite at 33 to 1 from the same source. Stephens is out at 40 to 1 with Venus very long at 125 to 1.

(photo: of Madison Keys, by Tatiana on flickr)


Shane Lambert