PARIS: Roger Federer and Serena and Venus Williams, three players well into their third decades on tour, headline Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) first day of the 2014 French Open as old meets new at Roland Garros.
Federer, the 2009 champion and 17-time major winner, begins his 16th consecutive French Open having made his debut back in 1999 as a raw 17-year-old.
He starts against Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, the world number 88 who he beat for the loss of just five games in their only previous meeting in the first round of the 2011 Australian Open.
Despite finishing as runner-up to Stan Wawrinka in the Monte Carlo Masters final in April, Federer then lost his first round clash in Rome, having only made a late decision to play following the birth of his and wife Mirka’s second set of twins.
He is planning to have all of his four children—newly-arrived Lenny and Leo and Myla and Charlene, who were born in 2009—in Paris.
Federer insists he will not be distracted.
“They sleep that much that I don’t feel bad yet going out of the room and coming back, it’s almost the same situation,” he said.
Women’s top seed Serena Williams, who won the 2013 title to add to her 2002 maiden triumph in the French capital, starts her 13th Roland Garros with a clash against home wildcard Alize Lim, the world 138.
However, the American star will not be getting too ahead of herself having been shocked in the first round by another French outsider Virginie Razzano in 2011.
Williams, 32, enjoyed an outstanding 2013 when she posted career highs in match wins (78) and titles (11), including her 16th and 17th major championships at Roland Garros and the US Open.