Serena enters 4th round, Sharapova next

Serena enters 4th round, Sharapova next

Serena Williams will look to continue her march towards what could be potentially the most startling and impressive of all her many triumphs when she takes on 11th seed Julia Goerges.

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.

"It's been a while, and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us in very different ways", said Sharapova.

"Everything that we have been able to achieve off the court, I have never really seen it as a competition", she said.

As Serena Williams is getting ready to meet her long-time rival Maria Sharapova in the French Open matchup on June 4, she has heated up the competition by blasting claims about her in the Russian athlete's book as "hearsay".

Sharapova famously beat the American as a teenager to win her first Grand Slam title at the All England Club back in 2004 but has largely suffered since - losing the last 18 matches against the former world No. 1.

She won for proving she belongs among the top-seeded players on that court no matter how much the dopes who drew up the brackets thought it made sense to follow conventional wisdom and use regular WTA rankings for seeding purposes, essentially turning Williams's 16-month maternity leave into a punishment no woman on maternity leave should endure.

Up next for Williams will be the most high-profile match and high-profile opponent since her return: Maria Sharapova.

The fall-out from that spat was still sending shockwaves through Wimbledon two years later when Mouratoglou had reportedly said that Victoria Azarenka - a former world number one and close friend of Williams - was a better player than the Russian.

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.

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"I just feel like if I'm going to compete in any match, I need to kind of start a little bit better", Williams said.

"And then the book was a lot about me!"

"But I believe I can hold a trophy not only here, I believe I can do it in every tournament I play".

The pair's fierce rivalry has been dominated ever since by Williams, who has won the past 18 matches against Sharapova. She's also one major title behind Margaret Court for the most in women's tennis history.

Reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens fought tooth and nail, stopping Camila Giorgi twice from serving out the match to defeat the Italian 4-6, 6-1, 8-6 and set up a fourth round against Kontaveit.

"I think anytime you play against Serena, you know what you are up against", Sharapova told reporters.

It has been nearly 2-1/2 years since Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova last faced off across the net but when it comes to these two great on-court foes, absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time French Open finalist Simona Halep, two-time major-title victor Angelique Kerber and reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens. The following year she beat her sister Venus in the Australian Open final, carrying her recently conceived baby.

"I think she hated me for seeing her at her lowest moment".

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