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Will this be the most exciting women's French Open ever?

Here's what we know so far this year: Open era singles Grand Slam champion Serena Williams is out of the French Open on maternity leave.

World No. 1 ranked Angelique Kerber is an anemic 19-13 and without a title.

Former No. 1 Maria Sharapova is nursing a bruised thigh and ranked too low for a main draw slot at Roland Garros anyway.

If you didn't know any better, you might think the women are taking the year off from the French Open.

We're not done.

Simona Halep, ranked No. 4, was 13-1 on Euroclay this year, with a title in Madrid, before reaching the final in Rome. Given the situation, odds-makers already had her penciled in as the probable winner in Paris. But she fell in Rome to Elina Svitolina, partly because she rolled an ankle in the first set.

Later, when reporters asked her after the final who the favorite to win at Roland Garros was, she replied: "About 15 players."

Early Wednesday morning, Halep posted a message on Instagram declaring that her ankle injury was worse than originally thought. Doctors said she had torn a ligament.

"I'm keeping my fingers crossed for RG and will do everything possible to be ready," she wrote on Instagram. "Doctors say it's 50/50 at the moment, but it's made good improvement since Sunday."

Garbine Muguruza, the defending champion, has problems of her own. She has spent most of the year trying to outdo Kerber in the "most disappointing" sweepstakes.

Muguruza is 17-10 with no titles and, more ominously, she's lost four matches by default. The most recent came in the recent Rome semifinals, where she had to quit after just five games against Svitolina with a locked-up neck.

It's not looking pretty atop the field at the moment. On the other hand, if you accept the WTA is loaded with talented players, and that the absence or compromised state of some top players has created a unique, historic opportunity, you're entitled to rub your hands together and anticipate this event with relish.

Think about it: Anyone can win this thing. How often have we been able to say that about a Grand Slam tennis tournament?

What we do know is that five of the top six in the WTA rankings are either not playing in the red dirt, or may have serious injury or fitness issues. The exception is No. 3 Karolina Pliskova, who is working diligently toward making that final jump from Grand Slam finalist to champion.

She has won two tournaments this year and has a respectable 27-8 record. But Pliskova has struggled on clay, failing to make it past the quarterfinals in any event. The nadir was a first-round loss to No. 99 Camila Giorgi in her home championships in Prague.

These are the conditions that will greet the likes of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams and Samantha Stosur -- the proven champions who have watched Serena or Sharapova sweep four of the past five French Open finals. They, along with other contenders such as Lucie Safarova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Dominika Cibulkova and Caroline Wozniacki, will also face the pressure imposed by the enormous opportunity.

Others such as Svitolina, the most consistent player on the tour this year, vastly improved Kristina Mladenovic and a fleet of gifted up-and-comers, including Jelena Ostapenko, Ana Konjuh and Daria Kasatkina are aware that anything will be possible at this event.

When you process the names and look at the recent records, the only conclusion you can come to about the upcoming tournament is that it will be a free-for-all. No one is safe. When the playing field is leveled, shortcomings as well as strengths are magnified. There probably will be epic performances -- and ghastly meltdowns.

Mladenovic stands 6 feet tall. At 24, the French pro is a late bloomer but may be a perennial one. She's become a better mover with maturity and consolidated a straightforward power game reminiscent of the last French female singles champ at Roland Garros, Mary Pierce. Mladenovic's nationality will prove a mixed blessing, offering heartwarming support while oppressing with enormous pressure.

"It's good pressure, of course, a privilege to have it," Mladenovic told the official Roland Garros website. "I've dreamed of having that pressure, because it means I have done something good. It is only positive. That means I can do great things."

Svitolina, a 22-year-old from the Ukraine, will have less attention focused on her. But that's been the story of her life. Yet here she is, more or less anonymous while ranked No. 6 in the world thanks to a re-energized game flush with a new aggressive dimension. She has four titles but has been as far as the quarters at just one major and has a history of underperforming at the big events.

In winning Rome, Svitolina may have erased a lot of history. She may end up overwriting it with a more inspiring tale over the next few weeks.

But she's just one of Halep's 15 -- or more -- hoping to do something like that.