Winning Serena featured on Harper's Baazar UK cover

Winning Serena featured on Harper's Baazar UK cover

Now, then, comes the drama.

The temperature hit 25C in Paris but it did not seem to affect the 23-time major victor in her first Grand Slam match since giving birth last September.

As far as Williams is concerned, she does not reserve any special on-court treatment for Sharapova - no matter what the Russian divulged in her autobiography.

Simona Halep powered her way past the challenge of Andrea Petkovic, after edging a tight first set on the way to a 7-5 6-0 win against the former semi-finalist at Roland Garros.

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, the victor in Paris in 2012 and 2014, hadn't played on Roland Garros' showpiece arena since a quarter-final exit in 2015.

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

Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They won their 14th Grand Slam title in women's doubles at the All England Club.

No one ever said coming back to tennis after an extended absence would be easy for Serena Williams.

The rivalry between the 2 has been a bitter one since the Russian's shock victory over Williams as a 17-year-old at Wimbledon, but she admitted that the "numbers don't lie". Williams beat Kristyna Pliskova in the round of 128 on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old served a doping suspension in 2016 and was refused a wildcard in 2017.

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Asked about a showdown with Williams, she said: "It's been a while, and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us in very different ways".

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is now many pundits' favourites for the title after dismantling Sam Stosur. Williams broke again to move 4-2 ahead and bring victory into sight.

Williams said she told her husband that she hopes "it's another girl".

She did not play any clay-court tournaments before arriving in Roland Garros, preferring to focus on improving her fitness and sharpening her game outside of competition at her coach Patrick Mouratoglou's academy near Nice, France.

She takes on Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu in the third round of the French Open today. Few can beat Pliskova when she's serving at such a high level.

He could not have been more right.

Against Goerges, the careless errors were largely absent. The missing energy was back, and how. In front of a crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, it took 15 minutes for Williams to gain the upper hand, sprinting to reach a drop shot and whip a cross-court forehand passing victor for a 3-1 lead. She played a poor service game in the middle of the set, and Barty won a break which she would not relinquish, winning the first set 6-3.

Sharapova is going to have a hard time winning this match in her current form, as her serve isn't where it needs to be. On set point, Goerges tried a lob and Williams hit an overhead that wasn't quite good enough to end the exchange.

It is clear Williams has learned to handle the criticisms and has even embraced her strong and muscular body. "It's a court I was watching on TV when I was 10, 15, so I dreamt to be there and now I am, that's why it was complicated for me", she explains. "You know, this is a Grand Slam".

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