Serena to take WTA by storm

2007-01-29 10:15

Melbourne - After enduring two years of criticism about her lack of dedication to tennis, Australian Open champion Serena Williams says she's already keen to start training on the clay.

But with the European spring campaign still more than two months away, the three-time Melbourne Park champion will have to content herself with returning as a regular on the WTA after a few lean seasons.

The 25-year-old, now with eight majors in her collection, played only four events and 16 matches last season. Already in 2007 she has notched up ten, with hopes of carving out a more "normal" schedule.

And Williams even sounded like she wanted to return as a contender after lifting her ranking from 81st to 14th with her Melbourne success over Maria Sharapova.

"My schedule is not filled, but my schedule is very practical. My goal is to stick to it and just make it happen this year."

"I'm definitely playing more than four tournaments this year. I'm supposed to go to India next, Bangalore (from February 12).

"I'm so excited, I've never been to India and I really look forward to going there. I'm going to India, then Dubai, a couple tournaments after that."

In the joy of the moment after thrashing Sharapova, Williams was looking far, far ahead.

"I'm ready to start training on the clay already," she said somewhat extravagantly after not playing the French Open since 2004.

"I know it's too soon, but I'm ready for the clay courts. I want to go home. I saw some things here I want to work on, I want to share with my dad."

The sudden onset of a revitalised work ethic prompted more promises: "I want to ameliorate my game, take it to a new level. I'm ready to do that now, ready to take my game to a new level."

It remains to be seen how long the enthusiasm lasts, given past distractions from fashion design, television acting and the glitter of Hollywood life which has drawn both Serena and sister Venus to its flame.

But at the moment, it seems to be all-go on the tennis front for the winner. "I still feel like there's more, maybe that's for the next tournament.

"Maybe that's for the French Open. I feel like I've got to go out and play some more. Feels like I have to come back tomorrow and play another match."

After dedicating her title win to her murdered sister Yetunde, killed in a 2003 gangland shooting, Williams admitted that she had been to the brink of a confidence crisis with her game.

"There's always times out there where you think, 'am I ever going to be looking at another trophy?' Especially since I hadn't won a tournament -let alone a Grand Slam - I hadn't won a tournament in a long time (two years).

"But my mom and my dad have always been so positive. They never stopped believing in me, that helps me believe in me.

"Venus, as well. I live with her, so I'm with her every day. We always, like, believe in ourselves, it works."

Williams she planned a small shopping expedition after her fortnight's work and million-dollar-plus payday.

"I'm gonna do some shopping. I've been in the hotel for two weeks. I want to go out and enjoy myself.

"I finally get to treat myself, I need some new earrings."

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