No seeding for Serena

Rafael Nadal

GETTYRafael Nadal is the hot favourite to win the French Open

How well do you know the French Open?

Now, thanks to the characteristic cussedness that has served her well since her tennis odyssey began in Russian Federation before being honed in Florida, the 31-year-old Sharapova is back in the top 30 and guaranteed a seeded place when the 2018 French Open starts on Sunday.

The last German man to lift La Coupe des Mousquetaires was Henner Henkel.

Reputations will be enhanced, and bank balances bolstered with both winners pocketing a cool £1.93 million ($2.58m) each.

But not just any Grand Slam.

Winning Rome has been a particularly good omen for Rafael Nadal when it comes to his chances at the French Open.

Serena Williams' return to Grand Slam tennis from maternity leave just got even tougher, with French Open organisers announcing they will not give the 23-time major singles victor a seeding.

Henri Leconte believes Dominic Thiem can win the French Open
GETTYHenri Leconte believes Dominic Thiem can win the French Open

The 23-time Grand Slam champ's lack of seed means she may face top-ranked players early on in her first major tournament since delivering baby Olympia, her first child with husband Alexis Ohanian.

The All England Club's official statement on the matter is that it follows the WTA ranking list, except where in the opinion of the seeding committee, a change is necessary to produce a balanced draw.

"Unfortunately I had to withdraw from Lyon yesterday and now Roland Garros", the 21-year-old wrote on his Twitter account.

"Can she do it?"

Several people in the tennis world have argued that the policy unfairly punishes women who step away to have a child - which Williams did past year - by forcing them to sacrifice their ranking to do so.

Who will be Serena's main challengers?

Following her US Open final triumph over Madison Keys last September, she embarked on an eight-match losing streak that last till February this year. Her sister, Venus Williams, sits at No. 9 in the world. He was beaten 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 by Nadal for the 2008 title, the most lopsided Grand Slam loss of 20-time major champion Federer's career.

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His present form, as well as his past successes, justifies his status as the man to beat on the red dirt. "It's the most important place in my career", said the Spaniard, who is coming off wins at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

Although a number of contenders, like Zverev, Thiem and Djokovic, are lining up to strip Nadal from his throne, he has to be the favorite because of his impeccable track record in Paris.

"He's by far the favorite", six-time grand slam champion Boris Becker told CNN Sport. "Even if they do test me at my current ranking of 454 in the world".

The fact that Serena is still the best player in the game isn't lost on the other great players who know how great Serena is on the court.

"It's not like you decide to take a year off".

There's also Dominic Thiem, many people's dark horse.

The former world No. 1 could face long-time rival Maria Sharapova in the last 16.

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Will Djokovic be a threat?

This year, the third-ranked Muguruza and Williams could meet in the quarterfinals. Failing to be seeded this season will leave her hopes of a fourth French Open title in serious jeopardy.

Ironically, she could face Sharapova, a two-time victor, in the last-16.

Which of these players saved a match point en route to winning a title at Roland Garros?

"I like the way I´m competing and the way I feel out there".

Curse of the home stars?

After all, Henri Leconte was booed when he finished runner-up in 1988.

The defending champion, who opens against 54th-ranked Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, is on the opposite half of the draw from numerous players considered most likely to challenge him.

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Paris in springtime. Red clay.

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