Melissa Pine: Paris awaits Serena Williams
Three-time champion looks set to return to Grand Slam tennis on the clay at Roland Garros
The clay-court season is in full-swing and fans around the world have been watching the best players compete in WTA events in Stuttgart, Madrid and Rome, as they tune up for the next stop, the French Open.
One name has been missing on court, though, the 2014 WTA Finals Singapore champion, Serena Williams.
Her army of fans cannot wait for her to get back on court and, after missing the Australian Open, excitement is building over her appearance in the second Grand Slam of the year.
With her incredible ball-striking and relentless determination, Serena is a force to be reckoned with on any surface.
Owning 23 Grand Slam titles from every surface, Serena has three from Roland Garros.
She captured her first singles title in Paris in 2002 when she was only 20. Eleven years later, she won the title again and bagged her third in 2015.
Serena's all-round aggressive style is effective on any surface. She has mastered her movement on clay, where conquering the footwork is no easy task.
Clay involves the technique of sliding to the ball, with impeccable balance a prerequisite and speed necessary to recover after every shot.
Serena has also demonstrated the immense patience required on clay to play longer points, and to strategically wait for the right opportunity to be more aggressive, either forcing an error or finishing the point.
When she believes in herself, feels ready and is confident, she is unbeatable. Serena always steps up on the biggest stages.TNP columnist Melissa Pine on Serena Williams
Her serve is a weapon as she can place it anywhere, at any time, putting her opponent in a defensive position from the very first ball. Her serve is one of the best, if not the best, in the women's game.
Even with the lack of match-play, her serve has not missed a beat since her hiatus to have her first child.
When she believes in herself, feels ready and is confident, she is unbeatable.
Serena always steps up on the biggest stages and, this year, in Paris should be no exception. She is a champion who gets going when the going gets tough.
Like Serena, many others will be returning to Roland Garros after a hiatus.
Victoria Azarenka will be there after some time away from having her first child.
Petra Kvitova is back after a shocking knife attack and she is having an incredible season, winning four WTA titles, including Prague and Madrid on clay.
Maria Sharapova is also returning to Roland Garros this year and, having won the title in 2014, has the experience to triumph on the surface again.
Simona Halep, a two-time finalist at Roland Garros, will be determined to claim her first Grand Slam title.
Jelena Ostapenko will have a lot to do to retain her French Open crown, but she is extremely talented on clay and her style on the surface is difficult for opponents to handle.
Even among so many worthy storylines, Serena's tale will undoubtedly command the greatest attention if, as expected, she makes her Major return in Paris.
It could be where she starts to earn coveted points on the Porsche Race to Singapore, as she bids to qualify for the WTA Finals at the Indoor Stadium in October.