PARIS (AP) — Serena Williams could face Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of the French Open on her return to Grand Slam tennis from maternity leave.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion will open her campaign at the clay-court Grand Slam against 70th-ranked Kristyna Pliskova of the Czech Republic.
Without a seeding, Williams was drawn on Thursday in the same quarter as Sharapova, who was seeded 28th.
Williams, a three-time French Open champion, is playing in her first major since giving birth to her daughter in September. Ranked No. 453, Williams entered Roland Garros under the WTA’s protected ranking rule but has not been granted a seed by organizers.
Top-ranked Simona Halep will open against Alison Riske, and defending champion Jelena Ostapenko will take on Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine.
The tournament starts on Sunday, the men’s draw, 10-time champion and overwhelming favorite Rafael Nadal will open against Alexandr Dolgopolov.
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Nadal is arriving in Paris on the back of another impressive clay-court season. He is 19-1 on his favorite surface, having lost just one match in the Madrid Open quarterfinals this month against Dominic Thiem.
“Having enjoyed the success I had over the last couple of weeks helps to be here with a bit more confidence,” Nadal said at the draw.
The seventh-seeded Thiem, who ended Nadal’s winning streaks on clay of 21 consecutive wins and 50 consecutive sets won in Madrid, will face a qualifier in the first round. He is in second-seeded Alexander Zverev‘s quarter.