Injuries stunt Williams sisters' ambitionsby Martin Parry
January 12, 2007
MELBOURNE (AFP) - Injuries and outside interests have stunted the Williams sisters' tennis ambitions, and far from being the invincible force they once were they are now in danger of being also-rans.
So say some, but not Serena.
Languishing at 94 in the rankings after playing just four tournaments last year, she is back from a four-month layoff and ground out some much-needed practice at the Hobart International this week.
if(window.yzq_d==null)window.yzq_d=new Object();window.yzq_d['nIpkBc6.Iqs-']='&U=13aelkh1n%2fN%3dnIpkBc6.Iqs-%2fC%3d567038.9703394.10419686.1414694%2fD%3dLREC% 2fB%3d4174407';It was her first tournament since the US Open and she admits to being rusty, and her body being sore, but is confident the new year will return her to the top of the game.
"Physically, I'm feeling good and I'm taking it literally one day at a time," said the seven-time Grand Slam winner. "It's a new year and I'm being really positive."
Her patchy form over the past 18 months and stated fondness to pursue careers in acting and fashion design inevitably have led to fevered speculation about whether she still has the hunger to be the best.
She insists she does, with the Florida-based star believing she still has what it takes to once again be world No.1.
"There's no doubt about it. It's just a matter of time. I'm definitely on my way," said the 25-year-old, who won the Australian Open
twice, in 2003 and 2005.
Serena, a budding fashion designer and bit part actress, slumped out in the third round of the Australian Open last year.
A knee injury kept her on the sidelines until July when she bounced back at Cincinnati, reaching the semi-finals before falling to eventual champion Vera Zvonareva
She also reached the semi-final in her next event in Los Angeles before a fourth round exit at the US Open in August ended her year prematurely.
Sister Venus, who has won five Grand Slams, has also been by riddled with injuries and pulled out of the Open on Wednesday.
The former world No.1, who has crashed to 46 in the rankings, had withdrawn from the mixed team Hopman Cup in Perth last month with a wrist problem.
Venus battled injury throughout a troubled 2006, playing just a handful of events and withdrawing from tournaments in Moscow and Stuttgart in October because of the same problem with her left wrist.
She reached the 2003 Australian Open final but was sent packing in the first round last year.
Whether she ever gets back to her best remains an unanswered question, having played just one tournament since June -- in Luxembourg in September where she was bundled out in the second round.
The break has at least allowed her to focus on studying for a Bachelors Degree in Interior Design, and boosting V Starr Interiors, an interior design company she set up in Florida that specializes in residential work. Having amassed 10 slams between 1999 and 2003, the sisters appeared unstoppable until injuries and the simultaneous rise of Russia's "tsarinas" derailed their juggernaut.