Serena ‘ready for anyone’

Serena Williams may be the woman every other woman wants to beat at the French Open, but the world number one insists she is ready for anyone who challenges during the defense of her French Open crown.

The American is once again the strong favourite to win the year’s clay court grand slam event, even though she fell short when defending her title at the Australian Open earlier this year.

“You do want to play the number one – you do want to beat them,” the 34-year-old told CNN’s Open Court.

“I know I did – but I am ready for that. I am ready for anyone every time.”

Williams had been in indifferent form earlier in the year and missed three tournaments with the flu, but the 21-time grand slam champion heads to Paris in good form on the red clay, having beaten compatriot Madison Keys in the final of last weekend’s Rome Masters.

Should she successfully defend her title at Roland Garros, Williams would tie Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 grand slam titles.

“Right now I feel good when my feet first hit the clay,” she added.

“I didn’t take a day off — I feel good on clay.”

A key member of Williams’ back-room staff in recent years is Patrick Mouratoglou, who started working with her after her first round defeat to Viriginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open.

Since they have paired up, though, Williams have been winning title after title, including one Australian and French Open, two Wimbledon titles, and three consecutive US Open titles.

“I’ve had a lot of success with Patrick and it’s been really, really great,” she continued.

“We work together well – we are both kinda leaders on the team — he let’s me do what I need to do and I let him do what he needs to do and it works.

“We respect each other so much. He respects me. I respect him. No matter what – we always have that connection – and I just feel like it’s rare to have that.”