Recovered Serena ready to conquer the world again

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 January, 2005, 12:00am

Ravaged by a series of injuries last year and knocked off her perch by a bunch of hungry Russian players, American Serena Williams remains upbeat that she can return to the top again. And her comeback started in Hong Kong in the doubles event of the Watsons Champions Challenge.

The 23-year-old Williams suffered a series of injuries that prevented her from playing her best as she slipped to seventh in the world after holding steady at number one for most of 2002.

The six-time Grand Slam winner was confident she can reclaim her throne as the world's best player, saying she was ready to launch her assault at the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open.

'Unfortunately I spent my holidays in rehab because I got injured at the end of the year. So I just had a week to relax. I did a lot of rehab. I feel all right now,' said Williams.

Asked whether she could return to the top, she replied: 'Oh yeah, definitely for sure. I have no issues. Definitely, I don't think there will be any problems.

'Honestly, everybody who plays me plays me so hard because they always want to beat me. I am going to get ready for each match from the first round to the final. For me, I just have to watch out for everybody.

'I definitely want more Grand Slams. If you win Grand Slams your ranking will come. I definitely prefer Grand Slams to a higher ranking. I love them all, starting with Australia.'

Williams said her confidence hasn't slipped and she has put injury problems behind her. Last year, she withdrew from the Australian Open after knee surgery at the end of 2003 to repair a partial tear.

'I feel pretty confident. It's hard to stay confident when you're not winning matches. My schedule has been different and it's not that I have not been winning matches, I just wasn't playing. There's a big difference between not winning and not playing. But either way it could have an effect on your confidence.

'I would love to have played singles [in Hong Kong] but I just didn't have enough preparation time. I think the fans deserved to get the best performance that they could [from me]. It was a tough decision for me to make, but at the end of the day I wanted to do whatever I could to get here. I really wanted to make that extra effort.'

Williams said she was deeply affected by the disaster that unfolded in south and southeast Asia on Boxing Day, saying she would do 'everything' to help with the tsunami victims.

'It has left an incredible mark on the world. I think it's been an extreme disaster. It's extremely unfortunate that it has happened. I guess it's just Mother Nature.

'The survivors, I mean, each day I read the papers, first the death toll was 20,000, then the next day 40,000. I'm thinking 'oh my God!' Then it was 100,000. The numbers just keep rising and I was thinking to myself, never in history has there been anything like this that was so fatal.

'I look at pictures of kids without parents. There's no way that I can not do anything about it.'