Serena Williams Back in the Swing in World TeamTennis, Eyes U.S. Open

Jerry MilaniContributor IJuly 21, 2011

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27:  Serena Williams of the United States returns a shot during her fourth round match against  Marion Bartoli of France on Day Seven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With 37 career WTA Tour singles titles, including 13 Grand Slam crowns, Serena Williams is among the most decorated players in tennis history, a surefire Hall of Famer the moment she's eligible, and one of a generation of players that introduced a new level of power, technique and shotmaking to the sport.

Today, because of health issues which kept the 29-year-old American out of the game for much of the past year, Williams has an official ranking of No. 172. With no tournament matches behind her, she still managed to advance to the fourth round at Wimbledon.Β 

But with the US Open looming, Williams has used the July World TeamTennis season as the first springboard in her return, and even got a taste of play Wednesday in the same city where she won the 1999, 2002 and 2008 titles, New York, leading her undefeated Washington Kastles to a victory over the New York Sportimes on Randall's Island, just a few miles from Flushing Meadows, where she hopes to get back to the top of the heap.

"I'm feeling good, and with some more matches I will be ready for the US Open," Williams said during a press conference prior to her WTT matches Wednesday. "It's a matter of being ready from the first match, gaining the confidence back."

Her current ranking would normally not qualify Williams for direct entry into the main draw, but her injury protected ranking of No. 1 applies, by WTA Tour rules. She added that she is still unsure about playing in the doubles competition, which she and sister Venus won in 1999 and 2009.

Serena's strong World TeamTennis season now behind her, Williams is entered in three US Open Series events to tune up for the bigger stage in New York. Similarly, Martina Hingis, her singles, doubles and mixed doubles opponent on Wednesday, used a WTT season to boost her comeback in 2005.

"I love playing World TeamTennis, and I've tried to play every year," said Williams, who won her women's doubles and mixed doubles events Wednesday, and was beaten by Hingis, 5-3, inΒ  singles. "This is the longest I've ever taken off from the game, which makes this a very different challenge for me.Β  I'm always up for a challenge."

Jerry Milani is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained first-hand.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.