Serena, Venus unsure of French Open


WASHINGTON, USA, April 29 – Serena and Venus Williams have shaken off injuries that have sidelined them from competitive tennis, but whether or not they will be ready for next month's French Open remains uncertain.

"The French Open is a great tournament. It’s a fun event. We definitely want to be there," Venus Williams said. "We’re taking it week to week right now.

"Our goal is sooner than later."

Speaking Thursday before they served as instructors at a Washington youth clinic, the Williams sisters showed no signs of the setbacks that have kept them off the court.

"One thing we have learned from being away from the game is how much we love it," Venus Williams said.

"The good part is we both get better every week."

Serena, a 13-time Grand Slam singles champion, has not played a top-level match since winning last year’s Wimbledon title after cutting her right foot on broken glass last July, an injury that required two operations.

She also suffered a pulmonary embolism in February that led to an emergency operation to remove a blood clot from her lung, a health concern she called the scariest moment of her life.

"It was really scary," Serena said. "I’m doing much better now. I’m feeling better."

When she might be well enough to return to WTA or Grand Slam play remains unclear.

"I’m just starting to feel better and going back onto the court," Serena said. "I’m taking it slow. Sometimes it’s slower than I would like. But it will all work out."

While she posted a Twitter message last month saying she was back on court, Serena has not said when she would return to competition. She would need to be ready by June 20 to defend her Wimbledon title.

Serena was atop the WTA rankings until being passed last October by current World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark. Serena, 29, is now ranked 10th despite her long layoff while sister Venus, 30, is ranked 16th.

Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion with five Wimbledon titles, has not played since she pulled out of the Australian Open in January with abdominal pain and a sore right hip.

"I’m feeling pretty good and staying fit," Venus said.

Venus was unable to defend her only titles from 2010 at Dubai and Acapulco but is expected to play next month in Brussels to prepare for the French Open.

Both Williams sisters have said they plan to play in World Team Tennis matches in Washington just after Wimbledon ends in early July.

They were excited to serve as instructors at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, an academic and tennis center celebrating its 10th anniversary with a gala event backed by the Washington Convention and Sports Authority.

More than 4,000 children have taken part in programs in a neighborhood of the American capitol similar to the underprivleged areas near Los Angeles where the Williams sisters grew up.

"We see ourselves in these children," Venus said. "It brings us full circle. Growing up in Compton, we see young people who really are (like) us. It helps us stay grounded, which is really important."

Among those who received expert lessons from the Williams sisters was Kayla Williams, a nine-year-old girl who walks to the center for instruction and classes, hopes to one day rise to tennis stardom as Venus and Serena did.

"We want to follow the dream," she said.