Has Serena Williams Ever Defended Her French Open Title?

Published 05/25/2021, 7:30 AM EDT
Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


Serena Williams, over her 25-year illustrious career, has won a record 23 Grand Slam titles. Her consistency in successfully defending Grand Slam titles has been incredible; however, it hasn’t reflected in her performances at the French Open.

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Out of her 33 Grand Slam Final appearances, Williams has reached the French Open final on just four occasions and has lifted the title thrice – in 2002, 2013 and, 2015.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 12, 2021 Serena Williams of the U.S. in action during her second round match against Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

However, the American has never successfully defended her title at the French Open despite coming at the closing distance to achieve it.

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Let us look at her missed opportunities:

A glimpse of Serena Williams’ failed chances to defend the French Open title

After winning her maiden title at the 2002 French Open, Williams won three consecutive Grand Slams thereafter and completed the ‘Serena Slam’ for the first time. Entering the 2003 Roland-Garros, she seemed poised to defend her title.

In supreme form, she reached the semifinals without dropping a set to face her arch-nemesis, Justine Henin. The thrilling semifinal reached the deciding set, with Williams taking a 4-2 lead, just inches away from the final.

However, the hostile crowd against Williams in tandem with a few controversial decisions, resulted in Henin winning the clash 7-5 in the decider and dashing the American’s hopes of defending her title.

Post her 2003 French Open semifinal loss, Williams had a string of poor performances at the tournament in the following years and had to wait more than a decade to win her second title in 2013.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts during her first round match against Kristie Ahn of the U.S. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Hence, her next opportunity to defend her French Open crown came in 2014. In what turned out a big upset, Williams suffered a shocking defeat at the hands of Spanish player, Garbine Muguruza, in the second round of the Grand Slam.

After winning her third French Open trophy in 2015, Williams set foot to defend her title the following year at the backdrop of claiming her fourth title at the 2016 Italian Open.

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Williams reached the finals of the 2016 French Open and was just a victory away from successfully defending her French Open title for the first time. Up against Garbine Muguruza in the final, the American was the heavy favorite.

However, Muguruza dominated Serena during the final and claimed the trophy, winning the match in straight sets. It was also the first time Williams lost in a French Open final.

Since then, Williams hasn’t reached beyond the fourth-round at the French Open, a grim streak she would aim to turn around. Serena is a Grand Slam title short of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 major championships.

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Despite having reached four Grand Slam finals in recent years, Williams has tasted defeat each time. Already in the twilight of her career, the 39-year-old has limited chances to clinch the elusive 24th Grand Slam crown.

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Kshitij Tayal

394 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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