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Serena Williams slams rival Maria Sharapova’s claims ahead of French Open clash

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Getty Images  CHRISTOPHER SIMON  AFP

Williams then charged on to win the set and match 6-4, seemingly getting better with each match she plays.

The 36-year-old American, three times a victor in Paris, has lost just two of their 21 meetings and their last-16 encounter on Monday will be among the most eagerly-anticipated of the whole tournament.

After she broke for a 3-1 lead with a blazing crosscourt victor, tremors were felt all around the arena as Williams smashed the ball away with all her might to wrap up the opening set. "And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there".

Before Roland Garros 2017, Caroline Garcia had won just three matches in six appearances in Paris, and had played 20 Grand Slams without going beyond the third round.

As well as vying for commercial and PR supremacy, the two have fought very public battles over their private lives.

Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Serena lost just five first serve points and won 73 percent of her total service points.

After reaching the last 16 of a major for the first time as a mother, Williams was all smiles.

Two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova saw her dreams of victory in Paris ended by a fantastic display by Anett Kontaveit. Both have been ranked No 1.

Sharapova has won just two of their 21 meetings, including the 2004 Wimbledon final which she covered in some detail in her autobiography released previous year.

As far as Williams is concerned, she does not reserve any special on-court treatment for Sharapova - no matter what the Russian divulged in her autobiography.

"She's been playing for over a year now".

Asked about what was written about her in the 31-year-old's book, Williams said: "So I was, like, this is really interesting".

Sharapova spoke of her rivalry with Williams extensively in her autobiography a year ago.

Sharapova gets smoked every time she plays Serena.

"She's playing really well and I think this is really her best surface".

Sharapova announced herself to the tennis world in dramatic fashion as a 17-year-old at the All England Club by dismantling defending champion Williams in straight sets to become the third-youngest victor of the title.

"And then the book was a lot about me!"

"It's not a surprise to me, actually. At least the stuff I read, which was a little bit disappointing". Not only did the American move and defend as well as anyone, she also played some of the best attacking tennis.

While many may have thought the fierce competitors would never face each other again, they would certainly would never have expected to see a day when Williams is unseeded and Sharapova seeded 28.

There were plenty of other results involving top names at the French Open on Saturday.

Defending champion Rafael Nadal has advanced to the fourth round of the French Open with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win against Richard Gasquet, improving to 16-0 against the Frenchman. She has crushed Sharapova at Wimbledon: in the annual Grand Slam there and at the 2012 Olympics, where she won 6-0, 6-1.

-When you buy Tennis Channel Plus, your 12-month subscription gets you access to every ATP Masters 1000 tournament played outside the USA, and every round through the finals of WTA Indian Wells, Miami and Cincinnati.

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