The recent news that tennis legend Serena Williams is pregnant has dramatically altered the betting odds for the 2017 French Open. While the No. 2 player in the world is on maternity leave, her peers may see this as a golden opportunity to capture a Grand Slam.
Williams, a three-time winner of the tournament, is not expected to compete in any Grand Slam this year. Since first competing at the French in 1998, Williams has missed the tournament four times.
The 35-year-old American reached the final last year, losing in a hard-fought battle to Garbine Muguruza, 7-5 6-4.
Muguruza is the top favorite at Roland Garros at 9/2 odds, according to betting site Bovada. The 23-year-old Spaniard, who grew up idolizing Williams, is ranked No. 6 in the world but may not be in top form. She withdrew in the fourth round of the Miami Open in March due to a heat-related illness.
Fifth-ranked Simona Halep has the second-best odds at 6-to-1 and is followed by top-ranked Angelique Kerber at 8-to-1.
But the most intriguing competitor is Maria Sharapova. Having served a 15-month ban for taking the drug meldonium, Sharapova begins her comeback next week in Stuttgart. The unranked Russian has 9-to-1 odds at Roland Garros despite the lengthy layoff.
Sharapova's last two Grand Slam wins were French Open titles, having earned victories in 2012 and 2014.
Others in the mix to win in Paris include Karolina Pliskova (14/1), Elina Svitolina (18/1), Johanna Konta (22/1), Petra Kvitova (25/1), Caroline Wozniacki and American Madison Keys (25/1).
The French Open begins on May 28 and runs through June 11.