"On paper, it's a step in the right direction", Sharapova said. As she knows better than anyone, it is her fourth major final, and after various disappointments of various degrees, she is ready to take the trophy.
Another grand slam chance for Simona Halep.
Top-ranked Simona Halep is up against 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the other semifinal match.
And Halep, 26, had said, "I was dreaming for this moment since I started to play tennis". "Then I changed a little bit of tactics and it worked". Probably nothing, because I will keep my routine. "I think that we'll just have to go out and compete".
Looking at clay data from the last 12 months, it is the underdog, Stephens, who has the better data on serve, holding 72.9% to Halep's 71.7%, but Halep enjoys a much bigger edge on return, breaking opponents 53.5% of the time, compared to Stephens' 45.5%.
She is one of two semi-finalists - alongside Garbine Muguruza - who are yet to drop a set this fortnight in Paris.
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While Sharapova defends her inclusion of Williams due to the role she has played in the five-time Grand Slam champion's career, Williams was still disappointed.
In the first all-American Roland Garros semi-final since 2002, the 10th-seeded Stephens stayed composed throughout as Keys, who has not won a set against her in three meetings, peppered the court with unforced errors. "Coming into this part of the year, I was losing a few first-round matches, matches that I wanted to be winning, of course". Muguruza won the French Open in 2016, then Wimbledon past year.
Sloane Stephens in action at the French Open. Stephens has now followed that up by once again defeating Keys to reach the final in Paris.
Halep is the bookies' favourite to finally win a first Grand Slam and leads 5-2 in her head-to-head record against Stephens.
"When you're writing an autobiography, I don't think there is any reason to write anything that's not true", said Sharapova. "I have another chance to be in the final and hope to do better than a year ago", said Halep.
Meanwhile, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) on Thursday announced that it has named Brazilian tennis legend and three-time French Open victor Gustavo Kuerten as a Roland Garros ambassador. She'll be hoping to make it fourth time lucky on Saturday.
Jamie Lisanti: This year's French Open final is a flawless example of when the heart says one thing but the brain says another. We saw that in last year's U.S. Open-she came right out of the gates firing on all cylinders. If Halep was able to handle the cross shots of Muguruza and Kerber, she should have the ability to control this match as well.