Serena Williams wore another eye-catching outfit at the French Open and the 23-time grand slam champion said it was all about positive re-enforcement and empowerment.

After unveiling a skin-tight 'catsuit' at Roland Garros in 2017, Williams made another fashion statement during her 2-6 6-1 6-0 first-round victory over Vitalia Diatchenko in Paris on Monday.

Williams – a three-time French Open champion – showcased a two-piece Nike outfit, with the words champion, queen, mother and goddess in French.

Afterwards, the former world number one and 37-year-old told reporters: "Well on the outfit it has words in French, and it says 'Queen', it says 'Champion', and it says 'Mom'.

"Those are things that mean a lot to me and reminders for me and for everyone that wants to wear it.

"Just remind everyone that they can be champions and are queens. So I love that about it. And I don't know, my super power today was just hanging in there and staying positive for once."

Williams smiled as she added: "I'm just crazy, to be honest. I think everyone knows that now. I just needed to change. I was, like, I've got to try something different. It's not my forehand, it's my clothes; right? So really, that's it. I'm just mentally a little off."

When asked if the four words were a lot to carry, Williams said: "Yeah. It is a lot to carry, but so is being Serena Williams."

Kiki Bertens' comfortable progress from round one of the French Open was in contrast to Serena Williams' struggles, while teenager Diane Parry thrilled the Roland Garros locals with her win on Monday.

The in-form Bertens, a champion in Madrid this month, ousted home favourite Pauline Parmentier 6-3 6-4 in Paris.

Three-time champion Williams was off form in her opening set against Vitalia Diatchenko before recovering to triumph 2-6 6-1 6-0 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Caroline Wozniacki fell at the first hurdle, but 16-year-old's Parry's main-draw debut was the stuff of dreams in the French capital.


BERTENS NOT ENJOYING FAVOURITE TAG

Bertens was in complete control during her 6-3 6-4 defeat of Parmentier and the Dutchwoman is considered among the favourites with many pundits – a tag she is not all together comfortable with.

"It's not really something that I'm enjoying, but, no, I know it's going to be really, really tough [to win] the title here," she said. 

"I'm taking it match by match and then we will see whatever happen here. I know that I can do it, but I also know that I can lose in the next round."


SERENA ROARS AFTER SLOW START

Williams was uncharacteristically poor in her opening set versus Diatchenko and let out an almighty roar after an error early in the second, which coincided with a big upturn in fortunes.

"I was just so frustrated. I just let out this roar and here I am. Yeah, so maybe that helped. Like I said, I have never done that before," she said. 

"Usually I do, but it's after a shot. But this time, it was just like, 'Ahhhh'."


PARRY PUTS MAURESMO LESSON INTO PRACTICE

At 16 years and 281 days old, Parry is the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the French Open this decade.

Her one-handed backhand was a potent weapon in the 6-2 6-4 beating of Vera Lapko, evoking memories of the legendary Amelie Mauresmo, who just so happened to have provided a helping hand.

"It's Amelie Mauresmo that taught me. I love it," she said. "I'm very happy to have a one-handed backhand. I'm one of the very few players to have one, so I stand out thanks to this."


EARLY AU REVOIR FOR WOZNIACKI

Wozniacki (13) bagelled Veronika Kudermetova in the opening set of their tie, but the Russian rebounded to shock her more illustrious opponent 0-6 6-3 6-3.

There was better news for Johanna Konta (26), Ashleigh Barty (8), Donna Vekic (23), Elise Mertens (20), Anastasija Sevastova (12) and Hsieh Su-wei (25), who all progressed, but Julia Goerges (18) bit the dust to Kaia Kanepi.

Serena Williams said she felt like she was playing with "concrete blocks on my feet" in her Roland Garros opener, while admitting she considered withdrawing from the French Open before the tournament started.

The three-time champion was out of sorts in the first set of her round-one tie against Vitalia Diatchenko.

But Williams regained her composure to record an ultimately comfortable 2-6 6-1 6-0 victory over her Russian opponent.

Speaking on court after the win, Williams opened up about struggling with nerves, a theme she elaborated on in a post-match news conference.

"It was weird. I have been dealing with a lot and then I just got nervous out there and I stopped moving my feet," she said. 

"And I was, like, [feeling as though I had] concrete blocks on my feet. I was like, 'You gotta do something'. But compared to other matches, I'm always a little nervous in grand slams, especially in the first round.

"I was just making so many errors. Every shot I hit, I felt like I was hitting on my frame. I usually don't hit balls on my frame. I was just off, basically. 

"And then instead of correcting it, I just kept getting worse to be honest. I knew it couldn't get worse and I knew I could only go up. That's what I told myself. I just gotta keep positive. 

"It was just a strange start to that match for me."

The 23-time grand slam winner has struggled with injuries this season and a knee problem saw her withdraw from the recent Internazionali d'Italia.

Asked if she had thought about skipping the French Open to prepare for Wimbledon, she replied: "It crossed my mind every day, but I'm here. And [I'm here] to do the best that I can do."

Serena Williams recovered from an underwhelming start to defeat the unheralded Vitalia Diatchenko 2-6 6-1 6-0 in the first round of the French Open.

Three-time champion Williams struggled to find her rhythm and range in an uncharacteristically poor first set on Court Philippe-Chatrier as world number 83 Diatchenko threatened a mammoth upset in Paris.

But Diatchenko – who knocked Maria Sharapova out of Wimbledon last year – had little reply when Williams' unmatched power started to land and the 23-time grand slam champion ultimately coasted to an 800th main-draw win.

The 37-year-old, whose only other meeting with Diatchenko was at the US Open in 2015, will now face Kurumi Nara or Dalila Jakupovic in round two.

Williams, whose most recent triumph at Roland Garros was in 2015, had already saved a couple of break points by the time she dropped serve to love in a scratchy game five.

The American great's timing was well off and she threw her arms up in exasperation when a wild overhead volley went long.

Diatchenko was in inspired form too, though, and a couple of exquisitely timed double-backhand winners set up another break-point chance, which was converted when Williams went long from the baseline.

The Russian needed three goes to deservedly seal the first set but soon found herself under the cosh in the second following back-to-back double faults in game two.

Williams made the break with a thumping forehand and, perhaps motivated by the anger of such an inept first-set showing, quickly started to dictate the rallies with consummate ease.

Diatchenko struggled to regain the standard she set early in the match and was soon a double break down from which there was no recovering.

It became an uphill struggle for Diatchenko when she was broken again in the first game of the decider after putting a forehand long, and when she skewed a backhand long to gift another break to Williams, the writing was on the wall.

A double fault handed a third break to Williams, who easily served out for the bagel and the match.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Serena Williams [10] bt Vitalia Diatchenko 2-6 6-1 6-0

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams - 25/24
Diatchenko - 11/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams - 9/3
Diatchenko - 0/6

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams - 5/11
Diatchenko - 2/5

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE

Williams - 60
Diatchenko – 60

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE

Williams - 75/45
Diatchenko - 61/34

TOTAL POINTS

Williams - 75
Diatchenko - 59

Caroline Wozniacki vowed to fight back and stay positive after her latest setback at the French Open.

Former world number one Wozniacki, a major champion in Melbourne just last year, was the 13th seed at Roland Garros amid a difficult season so far, having retired in the first round at both the Madrid Open and the Internazionali d'Italia.

The Dane was able to complete her opener on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday, but the outcome was no more positive against Veronika Kudermetova.

Wozniacki looked to be on course to a comfortable win early on but collapsed to a 0-6 6-3 6-3 upset, later explaining to the media that a calf injury had disrupted her preparation on clay.

However, the 28-year-old was optimistic that she would now be able to build towards the grass season and Wimbledon.

"My calf now feels good, so that's a positive," she said. "And I'm definitely going to go back and just practice and work hard and get ready for the grass season.

"It's definitely frustrating. You want to win, you're competitive, you work hard, and you want to see results.

"It hasn't been a great year for me so far and I'm just going to try to work hard and try to turn that around. Right now, there's not much I can do about the first six months of the season.

"I had some good weeks where I felt great, and then I've had some weeks where I've been sick and some weeks where I've been injured.

"I just have to try to stay positive. Obviously it's not as easy to stay positive when things aren't going your way, but I think that's when you really need to just keep grinding."

Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from the French Open ahead of her opening match on Monday due to an arm injury.

Two-time grand slam champion Kvitova had been due to face Sorana Cirstea in the first round, but she announced her "really tough decision" just hours before she was due on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The world number six retired from her last-16 match at the Internazionali d'Italia earlier this month and revealed on Monday she had been playing through pain in recent weeks.

A scan on Sunday confirmed the Czech star would need to skip Roland Garros.

Kvitova post on Twitter: "I'm so disappointed to have to announce my withdrawal from Roland Garros.

"I've had pain in my left forearm for a few weeks and, last night, an MRI confirmed a grade two tear, which unfortunately could get a lot worse if I play today.

"Two years ago, I made my comeback here at Roland Garros, so I'm truly sad not to be able to play here this year.

"It is a really tough decision to make, but I wish the tournament all the best for a successful event and can't wait to be back in 2020."

Kvitova's best performance at the French Open saw her reach the semi-finals in 2012, where she lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova.

The 29-year-old was the victim of a career-threatening knife attack in late 2016 but returned to the court and reached the Australian Open final - her first in a major since the incident - earlier this year.

Anastasia Potapova pulled off the biggest shock on day one of the French Open by dispatching Angelique Kerber and Elina Svitolina sent Venus Williams packing in Paris.

Kerber had been out of action since suffering an ankle injury at the Madrid Open and the fifth seed's hopes of completing a career Grand Slam were ended when world number 81 Potapova consigned her to a 6-4 6-2 defeat.

Svitolina has been hampered by a knee problem, but the WTA Finals champion claimed her first clay-court victory of the season when it really mattered - seeing off veteran Williams 6-3 6-3.

Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion at Roland Garros, fought back to beat Taylor Townsend 5-7 6-2 6-2 on Sunday.

Karolina Pliskova and last year's runner-up Sloane Stephens were among the other winners on the opening day, while Svetlana Kuznetsova was knocked out by the 203-ranked Kristina Kucova a decade after winning the title.

 

NO EXCUSES FROM KERBER 

Kerber had only played three matches on clay this season prior to Roland Garros due to her ankle injury.

"This is not my excuse. I tried my best," said Kerber following her surprise defeat to 18-year-old Russian Potapova. "I know there is still a little bit of work to do to really play matches at 100 per cent, to slide, to jump on the foot, and on the leg."

Potapova was elated to pull off a first victory over a top-10 opponent on her French Open debut against a player she looks up to.

"I was really looking forward for this match because I like [Kerber] very much. She's actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game, how she's playing," she said. "When you step on the court and you play your idol, you've just got to show your best. That helped me."

 

SVITOLINA BACK FROM BEING 'AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES'

Svitolina has not had the season she had would have wanted after winning the WTA Finals, but hopes a win against Williams will be the start of a resurgence.

"Sometimes in a few matches in the past two months, I had a situation where I was not thinking about what I had to do on court. I was more away with the fairies, I would say," said the ninth seed.

"So, it's not easy, but I learned a lot during these two months, and I tried to have a right mindset, which is going to help me to handle this.

"Today it was a good example that I can do it and I took my chances."

 

MUGURUZA TOWN BUT NOT OUT, STEPHENS AND PLISKOVA THROUGH IN TWO

Muguruza was a semi-finalist last year after winning her maiden major at this tournament three years ago, but she was in danger of making an early exit at the hands of Townsend.

The 19th seed raised her game to topple the American, hitting 37 winners to seal her spot in round two.

Second seed Pliskova defeated Madison Brengle 6-2 6-3, while Stephens was a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) winner in her encounter with Misaki Doi.

Three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber became the first seed to exit the French Open as she lost to 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova on Sunday.

Kerber needs a victory in Paris to complete a career Grand Slam, having added the 2018 Wimbledon title to 2016 successes at the Australian Open and US Open.

But that long-awaited triumph will not come this year after the German fell at the first hurdle, going down 6-4 6-2 against world number 81 Potapova.

Kerber was well below her brilliant best and Potapova took the first set at the end of a break-heavy opener.

The fifth seed was then broken again in her first service game of the second set and she scarcely looked like recovering as Potapova cruised to a first win over a top-10 player in her Roland Garros debut.

Kerber, who withdrew from the Madrid Open earlier this month with a right ankle injury, is without a WTA Tour title this season and has still not been past the quarter-finals at the French Open.

Meanwhile, Potapova faces Wang Yafan or Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.

Dayana Yastremska came out on top in an almighty battle with Caroline Garcia to win the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Saturday.

The teenager saved a match point before going on to win her third title in eight months, beating Garcia 6-4 5-7 7-6 (7-3) in the longest WTA final of the season.

Sixth seed Yastremska's triumph was her first on clay, providing a huge tonic ahead of her first-round clash with Carla Suarez Navarro at the French Open next week.

Garcia saved two match points in the second set to ensure a tense showdown went the distance in her homeland, and the 2016 Strasbourg champion had a point to regain the title in the decider after rallying from a break down.

Yastremska stood firm to force a tie-break, though, and the 19-year-old from Ukraine finished strongly to ensure she will head to Roland Garros on a high.

It took just two minutes shy of three hours to settle what was a gripping final.

Yulia Putintseva came from behind to beat Tamara Zidansek and claim her first WTA Tour title at the Nuremberg Cup.

The Kazakh, who was top seed at the tournament, won 4-6 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 18 minutes to finally claim her first crown, having lost her previous two appearances in finals.

Unseeded Zidansek was also seeking a first full title – her only previous win having come at 125k level – but the wait will continue after she failed to build on her lead, paying the price for being broken six times.

Zidansek had won the only previous meeting between the pair in Rabat three weeks ago, but while this contest also took three sets to settle, it was Putintseva who held her nerve.

The Slovenian made a rapid start but missed a chance to go 4-0 up and a first set that contained five breaks was soon sitting at 4-4. But Zidansek gathered herself to hold serve in a close ninth game before converting her second set point in the next to move ahead.

Putintseva, ranked 39th in the world, saved a key break point early in the second and broke Zidansek in the next game to reverse the momentum and eventually claimed the set to force a decider.

There had been eight breaks in the opening two sets, but Putintseva produced when it mattered most, not allowing Zidansek a single opportunity in the third and breaking twice herself, claiming victory with her second match point.

"It's unbelievable, honestly," said Putintseva. "It was a great fight, a great game for the final. My character is to keep fighting."

Naomi Osaka will be aiming to emulate a feat only a magnificent seven women have achieved in the Open Era when the world number one goes in search of a maiden French Open title.

Osaka became the first female player since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to win her first two grand slam titles back-to-back when she followed up her US Open triumph by winning the Australian Open in January.

The Japanese sensation arrived in Paris eyeing what would be an incredible third consecutive major triumph.

Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and Serena Williams are the only other women to have won three in a row in the Open Era.

We take a look at how they accomplished those glorious trebles.

 

MARGARET COURT

Court won three majors on the bounce before the Open Era began in 1968.

The legendary Australian started the new era with 13 grand slam titles under her belt and continued to dominate. She pulled off a clean sweep in 1970 after being crowned US Open champion the previous year and added an astonishing sixth straight at the 1971 Australian Open.

 

BILLIE JEAN KING

King ended the amateur era by winning a third grand slam championship on the spin and she was by no means finished there.

The American great won three in a row in a glorious 1972, taking on all comers at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

 

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA

Navratilova was the holder of every grand slam title when she won the Australian Open for a third time in 1985.

That came after she won in Paris, Wimbledon and at Flushing Meadows in a stellar 1984 season.

 

STEFFI GRAF

Graf was in a class of her own in 1988, completing a sensational calendar Grand Slam after winning her first major at the French Open the previous year.

The German's Australian Open victory in 1990 was also her third grand slam success in a row and she again held every major simultaneously after triumphing at Melbourne Park in 1994. She also won three in succession in 1995 and 1996.

 

MONICA SELES

Seles' run of three grand slams on the bounce was spread over two seasons, starting at the US Open in 1991 and ending at Roland Garros the following year.

She won three out of four in 1991 and 1992, with Graf denying her a calendar Grand Slam by winning Wimbledon in both of those years.

 

MARTINA HINGIS

Swiss star Hingis won her first grand slam at the 1997 Australian Open and the French Open was the only major she missed out in that magnificent season.

She started 1998 by retaining her title in Melbourne - a third major in a row - and claimed a fifth and final grand slam crown in Australia the following year.

 

SERENA WILLIAMS

Williams dominated in 2002 after Capriati won the Australian Open, with the American superstar claiming the other three majors before being victorious in Melbourne for the first time in 2003.

She also had all of the big four tennis titles in her grasp in 2015 after winning Wimbledon, before adding major number 23 in Australia two years later.

Teenager Dayana Yastremska surprised herself by beating Aryna Sabalenka to ensure she will face Caroline Garcia in the Internationaux de Strasbourg final.

Yastremska claimed a first title of the year in Hua Hin three months ago and could head into the French Open on the back of another after a 6-4 6-4 defeat of second seed Sabalenka.

The 19-year-old from Ukraine struck 36 winners and did not face a break point in the second set as she claimed the scalp of the heavy-hitting world number 11 on Friday.

"I didn't really expect to be in the final, because I had a tough period before. I was doing the work, I was trusting in myself, took a little bit of confidence, and I'm ready to compete," said the 42-ranked Yastremska. 

Garcia also advanced in straight sets, winning an all-French semi-final against Chloe Paquet 6-3 6-4.

Fourth seed Garcia, the champion in Strasbourg three years ago, claimed a break in each set to stay in the hunt to regain the title. 

There will be a first-time WTA singles champion at the Nuremberg Cup after Tamara Zidansek and Yulia Putintseva came through their semi-finals.

The unseeded Zidansek overcame Katerina Siniakova 7-6 (7-4) 6-2, while top seed Putintseva saw off Sorana Cirstea 6-4 7-5.

Naomi Osaka will attempt to channel her Melbourne mindset when she goes in search of a third consecutive grand slam at the French Open.

The world number one had her major breakthrough at last year's US Open and impressively backed that up by triumphing at the Australian Open early in 2019.

Her memorable victory over Petra Kvitova saw her become the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to follow up a maiden slam with success at the following major.

Osaka was asked at a pre-French Open news conference whether she went into those tournaments believing she was going to win and if it is a mentality she has again for Roland Garros.

"The US Open, no," Osaka, who faces Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in round one, replied with a smile. "The US Open mainly because I lost three matches in a row before that. 

"Honestly, I just wanted to play well. Maybe get to the quarters, just have a good time. But then I ended up winning. 

"But in Australia, the goal was to win. That was what I was waking up every day thinking. Walk through the tunnel, like, you see the two trophies. I would kind of tap that, the woman's trophy side. 

"In the Australian Open, my mindset was very different from the US Open. For me here, I'm trying to emulate the same mindset. I don't want to be here thinking I want to get to the quarters. Of course, I have never been that far here before, but my end goal is to win, of course."

At 21, Osaka already has two slams and the world number one ranking on her tennis CV, but the Japanese admits she had to tame her huge ambitions.

"I feel really old, but actually, I'm 21," she added. "I feel like when I talk to you guys [the media], it's like I'm talking like I'm a 35-year-old person that's been through a lot. 

"So, for me it's always because I always had really big goals and dreams. I always thought I would be number one and win a grand slam when I was 18. 

"I know that sounds kind of crazy. When that didn't happen, I was a little bit depressed. I was thinking I'm kind of late to the party. 

"Then I kind of realised that everyone has their own path. I'm not really supposed to compare myself to anyone else and I should just keep working as hard as I can, and eventually I'll get to where I want to be."

Osaka met Rafael Nadal during a stint at the Spanish great's academy during her preparations for Paris, an experience she described as "really cool".

That venture was to boost her chances of success in the French capital, but Osaka also harbours long-term ambitions to go with her immediate goals. 

"Roland Garros [is the dream]. That, for me, is what I'm dreaming about right now," she said. 

"If you're talking about longer goals, of course I haven't won Wimbledon yet either, and it would be really cool to win everything in one year. 

"But also, the Olympics are coming up, too. We're not forgetting about that. I think there are so many things going on." 

Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep will be out to defend their French Open titles when the second grand slam of the year starts at Roland Garros on Sunday.

Nadal will have to fend off a fearsome Novak Djokovic, who is seeking to hold all four slams at once for the second time in his career, and Roger Federer if he is to extend his own record and win the trophy for a 12th time.

Halep ended her wait for a first major when she triumphed over Sloane Stephens in Paris last year. The Romanian too has plenty of elite competition, with world number one Naomi Osaka looking to emulate a Serena Williams achievement, who again has history in her sights as she attempts to tie Margaret Court's record by winning her 24th slam.

Two days out from the start of this year's battles for the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen, we look at some of the best Opta facts ahead of the 2019 tournament.

 

Men's singles

- In the last 25 years only five times has the number one seed won the tournament: Nadal (2018, 2014 and 2011), Djokovic (2016) and Gustavo Kuerten (2001).

- Djokovic has not made it past the quarter-finals in his most recent two appearances at the French Open after reaching the semi-finals in his six previous tournaments, which included making four finals. 

- Federer has not appeared at the French Open since 2015 and has not reached the semi-finals of this tournament since 2012. Federer has won 20 grand slam titles but only one at Roland Garros.

- Dominic Thiem is the only player to have reached at least the semi-finals at Roland Garros in each of the past three years. He has not reached the semi-finals in any other grand slam tournament.

- Eighteen different players have won the French Open since the last time it was won by a French player (Yannick Noah in 1983).

- Gael Monfils, the highest-ranked Frenchman in the draw, has reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros only once in the past five years (2014), after reaching that stage in three of his five previous appearances.

Women's singles

- Halep is aiming to become the first woman to win successive French Open titles since Justine Henin (2005, 2006, 2007).

- If Halep reaches the final she will be only the third player, after Henin (2005, 2006, 2007) and Maria Sharapova (2012, 2013, 2014), to play in three consecutive finals at Roland Garros since 2000. 

- Halep has not reached the quarter-finals in any of the three grand slam tournaments she has appeared in since she won the title at Roland Garros in 2018.

- Osaka is aiming to become the first woman to win three successive grand slam titles since Serena Williams, who won the 2014 US Open and then the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon in 2015.

- Osaka has won the past two grand slam tournaments (US Open and Australian Open) but has never reached the last 16 at Roland Garros.

- Williams has not won any of the past eight grand slams, with her last triumph coming at the Australian Open in 2017 – this is her longest span without a major title since 2002.

Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia were each taken the distance but battled into the semi-finals at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Thursday. 

Second seed Sabalenka and fourth seed Garcia are on course for a final meeting this weekend after a pair of three-set victories.

Sabalenka came through a rollercoaster clash with Monica Puig in which she dominated the first and third sets to advance 6-1 3-6 6-2.

Meanwhile, Garcia recovered from an early deficit to defeat Marta Kostyuk 3-6 6-3 6-2 and set up a clash with fellow Frenchwoman Chloe Paquet.

Garcia had trailed the 16-year-old in the second set, too, before staging a recovery to avoid embarrassment.

Paquet dumped out Daria Gavrilova, while Sabalenka will play sixth seed Dayana Yastremska, who saw off Fiona Ferro.

At the Nuremberg Cup, top seed Yulia Putintseva and second seed Katerina Siniakova also needed three sets to reach the last four.

Putintseva will face Sorana Cirstea, while Siniakova takes on Tamara Zidansek 

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.