'Serena came out': Williams fights back as Nadal, Sharapova cruise

Serena Williams celebrates winning a point

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However, Thursday was a tougher proposition for the 36-year-old American, who was playing just her sixth match of this year.

After she broke for a 3-1 lead with a blazing crosscourt victor, tremors were felt all around the arena as Williams smashed the ball away with all her might to wrap up the opening set.

Williams, playing in her first Slam since winning the 2017 Australian Open while two months pregnant, had cruised through her opening round match against Kristyna Pliskova in what was a record 317th win at the Slams.

The rivalry really began when Sharapova beat Williams in the final of Wimbledon in 2004 aged 17.

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.

However, the 31-year-old isn't exactly hiding away from what is one of the most fierce challenges in the history of women's tennis.

Serena Williams of the USA reacts during her quarter-final match against Russia's Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 26, 2016.

Williams is not back to being that player yet. I feel like a superhero when I wear it.

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".

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

"Still, I believe you've got to distance yourself a little from the name of your opponent".

"I think any time you play against Serena you know what you're up against".

"I would love to be there (on centre court) again, of course".

"In the first set she gave me a hell of a lot of cheapies, a lot of errors", said the 25-year-old Australian who had secured her highest ever seeding at a major in Paris.

Sharapova announced herself to the tennis world in dramatic fashion as a 17-year-old at the All England Club by dismantling defending champion Williams in straight sets to become the third-youngest victor of the title.

Against Pliskova at Court Philippe Chatrier, Sharapova held an 18-5 edge in winners and broke the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up in five of her seven service games.

Halep, seeking to reach her third French Open title, takes on Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens, who booked her place in the last-16 with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Australia's Daria Gavrilova.

She next plays seventh-seeded Caroline Garcia of France. I think this is just one of her best surfaces, and she always does really, really well here.

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 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. It's a Wimbledon final, you know? The American made a brief foray on the tour earlier this season, but she played only four matches.

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