Serena Williams came through the challenge of facing compatriot Danielle Collins in their third-round match at the French Open.
After receiving a very warm welcome to Court Philippe Chatrier for the afternoon encounter, the 39-year-old put on a very impressive performance to progress through to the fourth round.
Collins threw everything she could at the seventh seed, but it was never quite enough and she suffered breaks of serve at crucial points in both sets to come up short.
It was a performance from Williams that Eurosport’s Mats Wilander praised after the match and he said she is very much a “dangerous” prospect to her remaining rivals in the draw.
Williams found herself under the cosh at 4-1 down in the second set after winning the first but produced an inspired resurgence to storm back and take the match in clinical fashion.
At all the big moments in the match, Williams produced what was necessary to come through and she closed out the impressive win in one hour and nine minutes.
With Aryna Sabalenka joining Ash Barty in leaving the tournament with a defeat on Friday morning, and with Naomi Osaka having withdrawn, the draw continues to open up nicely for Williams.
It was a display from Williams that Eurosport expert Wilander praised after the match – and he said she now has an “excellent” outlook this year with the draw opening up nicely for her.
“They were two very close sets, but Serena is playing really, really well,” Wilander said. “She is hitting the ball well, she is moving well and it was a really good performance.
“She has a great champion’s mindset, and that is why she has 23 majors – it’s mainly because of what is up here.
“I think it looks excellent for Serena. Aryna Sabalenka is out, Ash Barty is out, Simona Halep is not here, Naomi Osaka is out, Petra Kvitova is out.”
“So who can win the tournament? It’s not going to be a nobody. Serena has won plenty of majors here; Victoria Azarenka knows how to win; Sloane Stephens knows, so I think it is going to come from there.
“I know she [Serena] doesn’t like to look at the draw, but she should, because it is opening up nicely. Does that put pressure on her? Maybe, but she knows better than everybody that she knows how to win Grand Slams, even at 39.”
The American will next take on 21-year-old Elena Rybakina in the fourth round as she eyes a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title.