AAP Tennis

Serena committed to playing in US Open

By AAP Newswire

Serena Williams says she's committed to playing at the US Open and also open to travelling to Europe for the clay-court season.

Williams announced she'd play in the forthcoming grand slam in New York, but since then a host of top names have pulled out of the tournament due to fears over COVID-19.

Defending men's champion Rafael Nadal and women's No.1 Ashleigh Barty are the highest-profile withdrawals, but Williams says she will still play before travelling to Europe for the French Open the following week.

"I see myself doing it all if it happens," she said ahead of her appearance at the Lexington Open in Kentucky next week.

"But I am not planning for the future, as tournaments got cancelled I was just like, 'Let me just work on today and see what happens'."

The 23-time grand slam champion's openness towards playing is at odds with her attitude during the pandemic.

Williams, who suffered health complications during her labour in 2017, was a self-confessed "recluse" during the lockdown and took strong precautions.

"I have been a little bit of a recluse. I started social distancing in early March," she said.

"I don't have full lung capacity so I'm not sure what would happen to me. I am sure I would be OK but I don't want to find out.

"I have like 50 masks that I travel with, I don't ever want to be without one.

"With health concerns I am super careful with what I have been doing and everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.

"It is cool to play tennis, but this is my life and my health, so I have been a little bit neurotic but that is how I have to be right now."

During the lockdown, separated from her coaching staff and phsyios, the 38-year-old resorted to building her own tennis court and gym.

"Tennis is naturally a social distanced sport," she said. "It was easy for me to walk on my side of the court and my hitter to walk on the other side of the court.

"Florida was a really bad place to be so we were extreme with our social distancing. It was a completely different experience, but that is the only real learning curve.

"I had to make a gym and my husband made a court for me. I guess that is different! We built a tennis court and gym, it is super cool.