French Open 2016: Women's preview as players head to Paris

Can a resurgent Serena Williams defend the title she ground to last year? Or will someone else step up to the plate?

French Open 2016: Women's preview as players head to Paris
Serena Williams faced many tough encounters on her way to lifting the trophy last year (photo | NDTV)

As the tour heads to Paris for the second grand slam of the year, Roland Garros, the women's elite will have their eyes on the trophy with the exception of one.

Serena Williams will be looking to defend the title which she won last year against Lucie Safarova. However with only one title to her name so far this season, many others will fancy their chances of taking the title from her. Can Victoria Azarenka continue her form from her sunshine double? Will Simona Halep take advantage of her favourable draw?

Serena Williams (1)

The 34 year old American will no doubt be heading into the tournament as favourite after winning the title in Rome last week for her first title of 2016. However with three French Open titles to her name this is not her strongest grand slam and with a top heavy draw headed by the world number one, she will have to be in her best form to lift the title in two weeks time.

Agnieszka Radwanska (2)

The Pole, ranked number two in the world will head into this tournament with minimal expectations with this tournament historically not having been particularly kind to her. A solitary quarter final appearance in 2013 is her bet performance in the French capital. However as the second seed, she perhaps couldn't have wished for a better draw and could potentially match or exceed her performance in 2013.

Angelique Kerber (3)

Having won her first grand slam down under, Kerber, much like Radwanska has not enjoyed much success at Roland Garros and will not be too expectant heading into the tournament. With a tough first round match against Kiki Bertens, the 28 year old will look to improve on her last years third round showing.

Muguruza looks set to reach the second week in Paris (pic | Guardian)
Muguruza looks set to reach the second week in Paris (pic | Guardian)

Garbine Muguruza (4)

The 22 year old Spaniard heads into the French Open on the back of what has been a tough season for her so far. However with a very favourable draw, she will be looking to kick her season back into gear and showed signs of her old self in Rome with a semi-final appearance. It is a big opportunity for her and she will certainly be looking to go past the quarter finals this year.

Victoria Azarenka (5)

Fifth seed Azarenka is very much in the same boat as Radwanska and Kerber with the Belarusian having only enjoyed a semi-final appearance in 2013. Landing in a very congested top half of the draw and projected to meet Williams in the quarter finals, expectations will be low for Azarenka, however she is the exact sort of player who can thrive in those situations.

Others of note

Simona Halep has not enjoyed much success in recent times but the 2014 runner up will certainly be looking at this tournament as an opprtunity to go far with a favourable draw. Last years runner up, Lucie Safarova also has the benefit of being in the bottom half of the draw and despite a tough year will be encourage by recent performances and will fancy her chances to go deep into the tournament. Home favourites Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia are the only realistic chances for  the fans to cheer about with the former perhaps meeting Williams in round three. 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova has been handed a draw which could see her go very far this year and will have her eyes on the quarter finals and perhaps further.