Who will win the French Open women's title?

Who will win the French Open women's title? Our experts give their predictions.

Updated: May 23, 2008, 5:12 PM ET
ESPN.com

Justine Henin's stunning retirement last week left a discernable gap in the women's field -- particularly on clay where she was the three-time defending French Open champion. But who benefits from her absence is still to be determined.

Serena Williams appears to be as fit as she has been in years, while Maria Sharapova is one Roland Garros title away from a career Slam?

So who steps up? Our experts make their predictions.

French Open women's predictions
Bonnie D. Ford
ESPN.com tennis writer
Greg Garber
ESPN.com tennis writer
Sandra Harwitt
Florida-based tennis writer
Ravi Ubha
London-based tennis writer
Matt Wilansky
ESPN.com tennis editor
Early Exit
Ana Ivanovic has played very sparingly on clay in 2008 -- just two tournaments, including an early loss in Rome. Center court might be a bit haunted for her as well.
After a series of tough losses, France's Amelie Mauresmo has contemplated retirement in 2008. And like Richard Gasquet, she can't seem to bypass the home-crowd pressures.
Like Richard Gasquet, Marion Bartoli is also ranked No. 9 and will have to deal with a French crowd hoping for a French champion. She has showed little during the clay-court season.
Check out Ana Ivanovic's draw when she reached the 2007 French Open final and the 2008 Australian Open final. Cushy, but she has struggled since winning Indian Wells in March.
Venus Williams' prolonged recess during the clay season, coupled with her ambivalence toward her professional priorities may all add up to an early exit for the American.
Sleeper
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus has logged lots of quality time on clay this season. She recently made the finals in Prague and semis in Berlin, losing to quality opponents in both events.
Russia's Dinara Safina is coming off her best career tournament, knocking off three top-10s in Hamburg -- Serena, Henin and Dementieva -- en route to her first career Tier I title.
With a title at the French in the past, Serena Williams arrives with fire in her belly, determination in her eyes and positive results, as she embarks on a journey toward Grand Slam number nine.
Once upon a time, Elena Dementieva was a French Open finalist. The Russian, who makes up for her lack of serve with thunderous groundstrokes, has been sharp since March.
The French contingent has been clamoring for one of their own to rise to the occasion. Teenager and Rome finalist Alize Cornet appears to be ready for the grand stage.
Winner
Serena Williams is fit, rested, an excellent opportunist and ready to fill the vacuum left by three-time defending champion Henin's absence.
Smart money says Serena Williams or Ana Ivanovic, but this is Maria Sharapova's chance to break through at Roland Garros and complete the career Grand Slam.
The fact that Jelena Jankovic just won Rome, beating Maria Sharapova in the semifinals, makes her stand out more than new world No. 1, who is not a natural on clay.
No Henin means Serena Williams should have an easier time getting past the quarterfinals. The French is the only major Williams has failed to win at least twice.
With nagging injuries a central theme on the women's tour, this title may come down to who can circumvent these afflictions best. Who's better at playing in distress than Jelena Jankovic?