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Pierce: Toughest Opponents and RG Favorites


Twenty years ago, Mary Pierce pulled off a rare Roland Garros double sending French fans soaring.

The statuesque baseliner beat three Hall of Famers in succession—third-ranked Monica Seles, world No. 1 Martina Hingis and fifth-ranked Conchita Martinez—to become the first Frenchwoman since Françoise Dürr in 1967 to rule Roland Garros.

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The Canadian-born Pierce partnered Hingis to capture the French Open doubles crown and remains the last woman to sweep Roland Garros singles and doubles titles the same year.

In this video interview with Roland Garros' YouTube channel, Pierce reveals the toughest opponents she's ever faced are still playing today 20 years after her double title run.

The former world No. 3 cites Serena Williams and older sister Venus Williams as the most formidable players she faced.



"I would have to say there were a few that were really, really tough," Pierce says at the 2:50 mark of the video above. "Like Serena and Venus. They're so powerful.

"I would have to say those two were probably the toughest for me to play against. Big serves and big games, big ground strokes all around."

Serena Williams won five of six meetings vs. the 45-year-old Pierce. Venus Williams registered a 7-3 record vs. the powerful Frenchwoman.

Years later, Venus praised Pierce as her tennis fashion role model in an interview with Tennis Now.

"I think back in the day Mary Pierce really started to change tennis fashion," Venus told Tennis Now. "She was the first one to wear the tennis dress after so many years.

"I think that was definitely inspirational for tennis and for players wanting to wear tennis dresses again."

The WTA Tour announced it has suspended play until at least May 2nd, leaving the status of the 2020 Roland Garros severely in doubt. If the tournament is contested as scheduled in May, Hall of Famer Pierce says the tournament is "completely open" but favors five major champions as top contenders.

"Ashleigh Barty's defending her title; she's won it before, she can do it again," Pierce said. "Halep is dangerous on clay.

"If Serena is healthy, she's tough to beat even though clay isn't her best surface. Sofia Kenin, watch out for her. Muguruza is playing well again, she's won Roland Garros already. It's pretty open, tough to say, so I think we're going to have to wait and see."

Photo credit: Getty Images

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