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Serena in special ranking entry

WHITE PLAINS, New York, July 21 – Serena Williams has elected to use an injury-protected ranking to gain entry to the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the season, the US Tennis Association said.

The USTA announced a provisional women’s field for the tournament, which starts on August 29 in New York, that includes 97 of the top 100 in the world rankings.

Only the top 105-ranked players in the world are granted direct entry into the 128-woman field.

However Williams, the 13-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one whose ranking has plummeted to 172nd in the world after a series of health issues, has the option of using the system in which a player who has been sidelined for six months or more by injury can use a special injury-protected ranking to enter up to eight tournaments, including one Grand Slam.

“I have nothing to lose,” Williams said Wednesday at a news conference in New York City before a World Team Tennis event. “I think that’s when people are the most dangerous.”

Shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2010, Williams cut her foot on a piece of glass, an injury that required surgery. She then dealt with life-threatening blood clots and was out of action for 11 months.

Williams said she plans to prepare for the US Open by playing WTA Tour events at Stanford, California, Toronto and Cincinnati in the coming weeks.

“It was really awful to miss the Open last year,” she said. “My goal is to make sure I’m really fit. It’s the longest I’ve taken ever taken off from tennis, so it’s a challenge.”

The provisional US Open women’s field also includes two-time defending US Open champion and reigning Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters, 2011 French Open champion Li Na of China and Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

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