Who will be the next French Open ladies tennis champion?

With no single player emerging to dominate the world of women's tennis, the 2012 Grand Slam tournaments look likely to be close contests. We picked out the leading contenders to secure the French Open tennis title at Roland Garros in June.

The French Open (www.rolandgarros.com) made headlines in 2011, when Li Na of China won her first Grand Slam tournament, and signalled the arrival of a new force in women's tennis. The 2012 tournament begins on May 27 with the women's final on June 9.

The early betting suggests that the bookmakers believe that Li Na's win was a one-off, with the Chinese player quoted as a 16-1 outsider to retain her title, although she is ranked number 5 in the world.

Although there is no hot favourite, the 3 players regarded as being the leading contenders are the world's numbers 6 and 7, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and Maria Sharapova of Russia, along with Serena Williams.

The younger Williams sister continues to pick and choose when she plays tournaments, which explains her absence from the top 20. It's unquestionable though that if she is fit and in form, she will be a formidable presence at Roland Garros.

The top 5 women in the world, which includes Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva alongside Li Na are all somewhat disregarded in the betting, with only Wozniacki at 8-1 getting into single figure prices.

Perhaps that's a mark of the current interregnum in the women's game. We will all have a better idea of relative strengths after the first Grand Slam in Australia in January. It might be worth waiting until then to place your bets for the French Open tennis title.



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