A number of tennis’ biggest female stars could be absent from the French Open after picking up injuries ahead of the tournament.
The second major of the year gets underway in two weeks, though, it will be touch and go for the likes of Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep.
World number one Barty retired in the quarter-final of the Italian Open last week due to a reported arm injury.
The Australian was a set up against Coco Gauff as she chased her third clay-court title, but insisted that pulling out was just a precaution. The 25-year-old admitted afterwards that the problem was a muscular issue that “pops up now and again.”
Speaking in a press conference following her match against Gauff, the top seed said: “It’s disappointing no doubt but it was important that I listened to my body and gave it time to rest and recover and make sure that in a couple of weeks time I’m 100% fit for Roland Garros.”
Meanwhile, Halep’s injury looks to be more severe. The Romanian had to be helped off court against Kerber in her third-round match in Rome and revealed that she has a small calf tear.
The world number three is unsure exactly how long her recovery will be, but the French Open looks to be too soon.
“I will fly home and begin recovery in the pool and gym on Monday. I’m staying positive and will do everything I can to speed up my return,” Halep said.
Another top 10 name that could be in doubt for the upcoming Grand Slam is world number seven Bianca Andreescu.
The Canadian was forced to withdraw from the Madrid Open recently because of a positive Covid test and isolation guidelines prohibited her from playing in Italy last week.
The 20-year-old says she’s back in full training, however, and looks set to play, rules permitting.
British number one Johanna Konta has also been battling with her fitness in 2021 – recently making her return to action in Madrid after suffering with a knee injury.
Despite winning her first match back against Yulia Putintseva, Konta lost in the next round against Anastasia Sevastova and suffered an early exit in Italy as well –– being defeated by Jeļena Ostapenko.
The Brit is clearly a long way off her best still and the French Open may well have come around slightly too soon for her to mount a legitimate challenge.
As Iga Świątek seeks to defend her Roland Garros title and Serena Williams bids for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam, tennis fans will hope for the return of these top names, in what promises to be a fiercely contested competition.