Serena sets up Sharapova showdown

Williams and Sharapova are set to meet for the first time in over two years in the French Open last-16 on Monday.

Elise Mertens, who defeated Heather Watson in the second round, saw off Australia's Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-1 to reach the fourth-round stage for the first time.

The three-time champion and former world number one, dressed again in her all-black catsuit, is playing her first Slam since winning 2017 Australian Open while two months pregnant.

The three-time victor was facing an early exit in her first Slam since the 2017 Australian Open when she trailed Ashleigh Barty by a set and a break, but dragged herself back into form in trademark fashion to progress.

With her return to tennis now at full speed, Williams sent a big statement to her rivals.

Sloane Stephens is through to the fourth round of the French Open for a fifth time in her seven visits to Roland Garros.

It may not be easy on the eye with Williams's renowned power-hitting up against the 29-year-old German who leads the aces count on the WTA Tour in 2018 with 212. Since then, Williams had not lost any match to the Russian.

The pair will face each other for the first time since the quarter-final of the 2016 Australian Open, which was Sharapova's last match before a 15-month doping ban.

"I think what speaks for itself is that desire to keep doing that and the knowledge that we have that - that is still the driving force for everything we do". "I played smart, I did the right things and that got me through to the next round".

"You know, she's been playing for over a year now". They are Nos 1-2 among active women in career clay-court titles: Williams has 13, Sharapova 11. However, we need to see more consistent performances from her before jumping the gun just yet. "But sometimes it's not what it takes to win a match, and I think you have to kind of take care of your service games, and I have to serve better than I have been and take care of the return. You know the challenge that is upon you", she continued.

Sharapova dropped just three games as she knocked out the sixth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova.

"I don't expect extremely long rallies against an opponent like that", said Sharapova. Two-time Paris runner-up Halep booked a place in the fourth round with a 7-5, 6-0 victory and next faces in-form Belgian Elise Mertens. "But it's different when you're out there on centre court, and Serena's been there so many times".

While motherhood has clearly been a handsome experience for tennis G.O.A.T. Serena Williams her journey was not without challenges - many of which moms everywhere can relate to.

The Spaniard, victor in 2016 and seeded third, took just 62 minutes to see off Stosur, the 2011 US Open champ, 6-0 6-2.

Williams, though, did not linger about to track the disfigured ball's final destination as that shot had sealed her the set.

  • Julie Sanders