The final from the Premier Mandatory event in Rome is over, and Serena Williams is back in the winner’s circle after a fairly lengthy absence. Williams defeated 21-year-old Madison Keys in the final 7-6, 6-3 to claim the Rome title. It was the first tournament win for Williams since she won the Cincinnati Premier Mandatory event last summer.
Speaking at the press conference after the match, Williams had high praise for Keys:
“I think she’s such a powerful player. Obviously going in, I knew that, but I was just trying. I think I was pretty much able to just get back what I could, you know, and that’s all I was trying to do was just to go out there and be consistent, and, yeah, make my shots.”
Keys, despite losing a huge match at this point in her career, did not seem overly disappointed by it. “For me,” she said, “it really wasn’t so much about how big the tournament was or anything like that. It was really just wanting to go out and do my best and give my best performance.”
Keys enters the French Open with all kinds of momentum now. She looks to be the World No. 17 on Monday, and that should give her a Top-16 seeding when the French Open announces them. After all, Flavia Pennetta is ranked higher than Keys but won’t be in the mix due to her retirement.
The women’s tour has an event to be played in Nuremberg over the next week, one that doesn’t feature any kind of depth to it as the stars of the WTA Tour rest and prepare for Roland Garros. Numerous players on the women’s tour are currently question marks due to injuries or due to upset losses. For example, Victoria Azarenka pulled out of Madrid injured earlier this month and then had nothing in Rome. Simona Halep won soft-draw Madrid, but lost early in Rome several days ago. World No. 2 Angelique Kerber lost early in both Madrid and Rome while Agnieszka Radwanska and Garbine Muguruza have just one title between them this season. Petra Kvitova is quiet right now and, with so many stars shining not-so-brightly, it’s really hard to get a good vibe from anyone on tour except for Serena at this point.
My main knock against the World No. 1 heading into the clay-court season was that she hadn’t won a title since last summer. However with the Rome title and with all the other favorites missing something right now, it is starting to look like Paris will see Serena claim her fourth French Open title.
There is an event to be played this week ahead of the main draw for the French Open. WTA Nuremberg will be played in Germany, an event that hasn’t attracted much top-notch tennis due to the fact that the best players will be resting for a lengthy run in Paris. Those looking forward to the French Open can start to follow the qualifiers which will begin on May 16th. Other than that, it’s a week to the day before main draw action starts on Sunday, May 22nd.