Serena Williams sizzles to set up Maria Sharapova clash in last 16
Serena Williams will face old foe Maria Sharapova in the French Open last 16 after demolishing 11th seed Julia Gorges 6-3 6-4 at Roland Garros.
Williams faces Sharapova 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.
Sharapova has won just two of their 21 meetings, including the 2004 Wimbledon final which she covered in some detail in her autobiography released last year.
Just seven matches into her comeback following a maternity break, Williams impressed all those watching on the 10,000-seater Suzanne Lenglen Court -- including former boxing champion Mike Tyson -- by pulverising her opponent.
After she broke for a 3-1 lead with a blazing crosscourt winner, tremors were felt all around the arena as Williams smashed the ball away with all her might to wrap up the opening set.
Gorges broke the 23-times Grand Slam champion in the fourth game of the second set to get back on level terms at 2-2 but her moment in the spotlight was fleeting as she dropped serve in the very next game and Williams roared on to an easy victory.
After reaching the last 16 of a major for the first time as a mother, Williams was all smiles.
"It's really special to be here again. This time last year I was pregnant and I was having a tough time and then I had a tough birth so every match at this stage of my return is a bonus," Williams, who suffered multiple complications following the birth of her daughter Alexis Olympia, said courtside.
Two days ago Williams, the owner of three Roland Garros trophies, had to come from a set and break down to defeat 17th seed Ashleigh Barty.
If that topsy-turvy performance had given Goerges hope that she could finish off a job that Barty could not -- it did not take long for reality to sink in.
The woman who the rankings state is only the 451st best player in the world showed what she is made of as she rolled into the Paris fourth round for the 12th time.
Results from the French Open third round
- 1-Simona Halep (ROU) beat Andrea Petkovic (GER) 7-5 6-0
- 16-Elise Mertens (BEL) beat 24-Daria Gavrilova (AUS) 6-3 6-1
- 12-Angelique Kerber (GER) beat 18-Kiki Bertens (NED) 7-6(4) 7-6(4)
- 7-Caroline Garcia (FRA) beat Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 6-1 6-3
- 3-Garbine Muguruza (ESP) beat Samantha Stosur (AUS) 6-0 6-2
- Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) beat 19-Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 6-2 6-4
- Serena Williams (USA) beat 11-Julia Goerges (GER) 6-3 6-4
- 28-Maria Sharapova (RUS) beat 6-Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-2 6-1
- 25-Anett Kontaveit (EST) beat 8-Petra Kvitova (CZE) 7-6(6) 7-6(4)
- 10-Sloane Stephens (USA) beat Camila Giorgi (ITA) 4-6 6-1 8-6