Wimbledon: Serena Williams happy to be playing again

Wimbledon Championships

Venue:
All England Club, London
Date:
20 June-3 July
Coverage:
Live on BBC One, Two, 3D, HD, Red Button, online (UK only), Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra; live text commentary from 0900 BST on BBC Sport website (#bbctennis); watch again on iPlayer
Serena Williams
Serena Williams

Serena Williams has said retaining the Wimbledon title is not her main focus and she is simply glad to be playing again after a miserable year.

Williams had been out since winning her fourth SW19 singles crown in 2010.

But after overcoming a foot injury and potentially life-threatening lung condition, she finally returned to action at Eastbourne last week.

"My thought process is just to play the best I can and be positive. I'm happy to be here," the seventh seed said.

"It [winning] would be awesome and amazing but that's not my thought process.

"Six or seven weeks of just trying to get myself together isn't a tremendous amount of time, but the fact that I can even compete and be in a position I wasn't sure I'd have a chance to be in again is more than enough."

The 29-year-old, who faces France's Aravane Rezai in the first round on Tuesday, was first sidelined a few days after her victory at the All England Club last year when she cut her foot on broken glass.

That led to two operations and her hopes of returning earlier this year were scuppered by the discovery of blood clots on her lungs, which could have been life-threatening had she delayed receiving treatment.

Her eventual return in the warm-up tournament at Eastbourne last week - she lost in the second round to Vera Zvonareva - was a huge relief.

Williams said: "I didn't feel anything after a three-hour match. That was a blessing, although I felt like the breaks were five seconds long. Every time I sat down, the umpire would call 'time'. But I felt like I was able to go through it.

"I was fine physically when I got off the court. My mum was so worried about me. I keep telling her I'm OK. She's like 'if you feel anything, just stop and come off the court'. I'm like 'mum, the doctor said I would be OK'.

"I just had to get my lungs into better shape. I'm probably actually in better shape running-wise than I was before.

"There are some things that I want to work on and improve but I can't be upset at all about my game. It's fun. I feel like I'm young again. I have goals that I set for myself and goals that I want to achieve. It's good to have those goals to do."

Williams and sister Venus have won nine of the last 11 Wimbledon titles between them, while Serena's tally of 13 major singles crowns - including four Wimbledons - is the sixth best of all time.

And despite all her problems, she never considered settling for what she had: "I always thought I would want to continue to play.

"I thought I would play a lot sooner but things didn't work out. I'm never the type to stop. I'll stop when I'm ready and I'm just not ready. I really thoroughly enjoy being out here."

Meanwhile Anne Keothavong believes British tennis is in a healthy state as she prepares to face compatriot Naomi Broady in the first round, the first time she has played a fellow Brit at Wimbledon.

That draw guarantees at least one British woman in the second round - already an improvement on 2010 when all six players exited at the first time of asking.

British number three Keothavong, who has only passed the first round twice in eight Wimbledon appearances, said: "On the women's side there is a lot to look forward to in the next few years in this country.

"Everyone should be excited about it. Myself [aged 27, ranked 111] and Elena Baltacha [27, ranked 68] are hanging in there and the next generation [Heather Watson, 19, is ranked 106] is looking promising so there is a bright future for the game.

"I would like to think that people will get behind us this year and just support us. Everyone out there is trying their best and doing all they can to win."

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