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Past vs. Present: Comparing Female Tennis Legends at Roland Garros

The Roland Garros is the next major on the WTA Tour for the world’s best female tennis players, with many setting their sights on trying to win the legendary red clay court competition.

It has been the making of several players in the past, with some women having been able to perform so much better in the French Open than they have in other events that they have participated in.

With the 2024 edition of the major on the horizon, how do some of those in today’s era compare to those who managed to fortify a reputation and legacy for themselves in the past?

Legendary female players at the French Open in the past

It’s impossible to look elsewhere than Chris Evert when looking at one of the greatest female tennis players to have ever played on the red surface of the French Open.

Although she was an outstanding player in general, the American managed to win this tournament on no fewer than seven occasions. It was the event that she seemed to like the most throughout her career, as she won it more than any other. She won the US Open six times, Wimbledon three times, and the Australian Open twice.

Aside from Evert, there have been many women who have been highly successful at Roland Garros. However, it’s perhaps best to take a look at it from an Open Era perspective, as this perhaps gives us a better idea when trying to make a comparison with today’s stars.

Steffi Graff is next on the list in terms of most titles, having obtained six. Margaret Court won five, with three of these being in the Open Era. Justine Henin is arguably the most recent to have dominated the French Open, as she won four times during her illustrious career, edging just past Serena Williams’ three.

Who could challenge the legacy of these stars at the Roland Garros?

Again, there is only one name that really stands out when it comes to women’s tennis at the French Open that is impossible to ignore. Poland’s Iga Świątek has already had an incredible career, despite the fact she is still only 22 years of age.

She has managed to win three titles in the five appearances that she has had thus far. According to the latest betting odds, it would appear she could be about to make it four titles in six showings. She has been priced heavily as an odds-on favorite at 1.95, making her a short price.

Aryna Sabalenka is the next best-priced player, with odds of 6.50, whereas Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina are priced at 10.00 and 13.00, respectively. Everyone else is priced at 19.00 or greater, making the four mentioned the individuals most likely to challenge for the title.

Will Świątek surpass the legacy Evert created at the French Open?

While there is no doubt that Świątek will have a legacy in the women’s game that is akin to some of those that she would have had as role models, could the young Pole be able to achieve greatness at the French Open?

Of course, it’s impossible to deny that she is already a French Open great. There isn’t any other player on her level in terms of titles playing in today’s game, and when the famous red-clay surface appears on the sporting calendar, she is always the name to look out for.

When you look at her accomplishments here, she has a greater record than Maria Sharapova and Martina Navratilova, two female tennis players who arguably transformed the sport during their careers. The same can be said of Serena Williams should Świątek add another title to her collection.

With Evert sitting high on seven, there might not be a player other than Świątek who has the best chance of knocking her from the top of the ladder. Given that she is only 22, it would be a real surprise if we were to see that dominance come to an end on the clay and not get anywhere near the record of seven, if not ultimately surpass it.

2024 looks like it could be her turn to get a fourth title, and if she does, she’ll be well on the way to being discussed as one of the best to have ever played at Roland Garros, if she isn’t already.