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By Richard Pagliaro - Venus Williams is ranked No. 2 in the world, but she feels second to none every time she steps on the court. The reigning Wimbledon winner said she believes she is the world's best player and insists that collecting Grand Slam titles — and not earning the No. 1 ranking — is her primary motivation for playing.


"To be number one or number 100 isn't important, but winning Grand Slams, yes, that's very important to me," Williams said in an interview with the French daily L'Equipe. "It's (being the top player) the way I feel deep down. Every time I enter a court, I think I'm the best."

The two-time defending U.S. Open champion has won four of the last seven Grand Slam titles, but her aggressive baseline attack has been grounded at the French Open where she was upset in the first round last year by Barbara Schett. In five career appearances at Roland Garros, Williams has never reached the final four with her best results coming in 1998 and 2000 when she reached the quarterfinals. It is the only Grand Slam where a semifinal showing has eluded her and she'’s eager to change that fact this spring with a strong showing on the red clay.

"I'd like to take control at Roland Garros," said Williams, who is a top title contender for this week's Open Gaz de France in Paris. "I'm fed up with losing over there. I've never been at my best at the French. This year I'm going to start by getting there in good physical shape. All year round, most players would be happy to have my serve and my power, but at Roland Garros I need to find a good balance between power and other things you need when you're playing on a clay court."

The 21-year-old Williams has been a powerful presence in most major tournaments over the past two years, but her career has also been marked by prolonged periods of inactivity. While she is aiming to play 15 tournaments this year, Williams readily admits that she feels playing too much tennis is monotonous and that her time away from the game is equally important as success on the court.

"That's the way I am," Williams said. "I get bored very easily and if I spent all my time playing tennis it would start to bore me. I have a great job and most of the time I enjoy it, but I need to do other things in my life. I would like to win the French Open and I would like to be number one. But I realize I need to play more to achieve that and I don't know if I'm determined enough to do that."
 
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