Paris – Serena Williams said Friday she is as committed to tennis now as she has ever been during the course of her career, with her sister Venus's battle against illness a particular inspiration to her.
The 30-year-old American has won just singles title at Roland Garros, lifting the French Open crown in 2002 when she defeated her older sister in the final.
Since then she has mainly flopped on the red clay courts here while chalking up regular wins at Wimbledon, and the US and Australian Opens.
This year though, she appears to be set on victory once again in Paris and chalked up a 17-0 winning run on clay in the last few weeks with tournament triumphs in Charleston and Madrid.
“I think in general I have much better commitment in tennis. I just am really 100%,” the 13-time Grand Slam champion said.
“I love being on the court now. I love every moment. This is what I live for. After going through everything that I went through, I really kind of appreciate every moment more, especially being out on the court.”
Williams was referring to the bad luck that beset her following her Wimbledon triumph of 2010.
She firstly cut her foot on a piece of glass and eventually needed two surgeries. She then spent 20 weeks in a cast and walking boot.
Then in February 2011, she was diagnosed with blood clots in her lung, and didn't start practicing again until April of that year.
Since then it has been sister Venus who has been in the wars being diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease that saps enery and strength from its victims.
She has been working her way back to full fitness this spring and will also play at the French Open where she will be unseeded.
“It's amazing what Venus has done. It's unbelievable,” Serena
said of her sibling with whom she has always enjoyed a close relationship.
“She's been playing so well and beaten several top 10 players and still dealing with what she has to go through, which I see.
“It's really intense, and I just don't know anyone out there who has gone through everything that she's gone through and just remaining completely positive and yet still playing so well.”
Serena's last tournament in Rome last week ended in her withdrawing ahead of her semi-final against Li Na.
But she says the extra few days rest has done her good and she is ready for an all-out assault on the French Open title.
“It's better,” she said of her bad back. “I took a couple days off and I got a lot of treatment and stuff like that.
“I feel a lot better. I played a lot, so I don't know if that's what it was. I'm maintaining everything now. – Sapa-AFP