Serena Williams says she has rediscovered her love of tennis after an injury-hit 2006. The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion is coming off another injury-plagued year, one in which she played in only four tournaments and saw her ranking slide to 140.
The seven-time Grand Slam singles champion is coming off another injury-plagued year, one in which she played in only four tournaments and saw her ranking slide to 140.
But she is back up to 95th and is coming off a promising effort at a warmup tournament in Hobart that left her feeling upbeat.
And Williams - a former winner of all four Grand Slam tournaments - said her absence from the tour had rekindled her love for the game.
"I would be kind of pontificating if I said I think tennis needs me. But I think we work together," she said.
"Tennis needs me, I need tennis. I'm happiest playing tennis. I love to be on the court. I love walking out in the crowd. I love the competition. It works both ways."
Despite spending months on the road to recovery, Serena is not one to dwell on her hard luck.
"I don't regret anything that's happened to me," she said. "When I did get injured and I did get surgery, I did things I would have never been able to do, i.e. spend time with my family, spend time with my sisters.
"I wouldn't give that up for anything."
Williams faces a daunting path in Melbourne, with the same challenges as any unseeded player.
She faces 27th-seeded Mara Santangelo of Italy in the first round and could have to beat four of the top five seeds to win the tournament.
"It's all my fault, I guess," joked the seven-times major champion.
"I should have been a little more serious. But it won't happen again, at least as long as I'm playing.
"I'll try to make sure it doesn't happen any more. I take the blame for that."