Why are Roger Federer and Serena Williams Playing French Open Despite Disappointing Performance on Clay?

Published 05/21/2021, 7:18 AM EDT
PERTH, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 01: Serena Williams of the United States and Roger Federer of Switzerland take a selfie on court following their mixed doubles match during day four of the 2019 Hopman Cup at RAC Arena on January 01, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)


Roger Federer and Serna Williams are the two pillars on which tennis stands in the modern era. Having won a combined total of 43 Grand Slam titles, the two have dominated tennis for the last two decades. However, both players are 39-years-old right now and in a situation like this, it is tough for both of them to compete with players who are almost half of their ages.

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Roger Federer hasn’t performed well on clay in the recent past. He recently returned on the tour and lost to Pablo Andujar in the second round of the ATP 250 Geneva Open 2021. He was playing for the first time on clay since the French Open 2019, and this was surely not the ideal start for Federer ahead of the French Open 2021.

Roger Federer of Switzerland practicing on Court Philippe-Chatrier in preparation for the 2019 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on May 23rd, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Serena Williams also hasn’t been up to the mark lately when it comes to playing on clay. She returned to the court at the Italian Open 2021 after almost three months and fans had huge expectations from her. However, in her last three encounters on clay, she only won one match.

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This raises a pretty fair question; despite delivering poor performances on clay, is there a need for the two to play at the Roland Garros 2021?

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Why did Roger Federer and Serena Williams decide to play at the French Open 2021?

One possible reason can be that since the two legends are almost on the verge of being 40, they want to enjoy the sport for as long as possible. Federer and Williams can bid goodbye to the sport soon and thus, want to play as many matches as possible.

Also, one is usually not fit after crossing the mid-thirties. Federer and Williams both missed the French Open last year due to injuries and will surely not want to skip it this year when they are fully fit and fine. Besides, playing at any Grand Slam is a big achievement in itself and thus, they won’t mind showing up in Paris this year.

Serena Williams of the United States speaks to Roger Federer of Switzerland during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. New Stadium Court at the Hard Rock Stadium, before the first match of the Miami Open. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Even though World No. 8 Federer claimed that his main priority right now is to win the Wimbledon Championships 2021, he understands the importance of gaining form and momentum before that. He even stated that he wouldn’t be able to succeed at the French Open this year but still wants to play there.

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The same is the case with Serena who is not targeting the French Open but is looking forward to Wimbledon and the US Open later this year. Playing on clay might not be beneficial but playing against top-quality players in Paris will certainly help these two find their lost form and momentum.

As a result, both Serena Williams and Roger Federer have nothing to lose. However, they’ll surely give their best at Roland Garros 2021 and who knows, they might go on and win the major.

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Anshul Singh

951 articles

Anshul Singh is a tennis author at EssentiallySports, currently pursuing Journalism Honors from Delhi University. Having significant experience with content, Anshul has authored over 500 tennis articles. He has previously worked as a writer and an editor for DU Express, penning riveting articles on sports, politics, and culture.

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