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Serena back after 'mental break'

The American plans to return in the US Open after quitting due to knee injury.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2006 22:04 IST

It turns out Serena Williams was rehabilitating more than her left knee while away from tennis. Her mind needed healing, too.

"I honestly just needed a mental break. I was going through a lot of stuff in my life, besides surgery and including surgery," Williams said on Thursday, without going into specifics.

"It was a lot - a lot that not everyone will understand or ever know." She'll play her first match in six months when she returns to action at a hard-court tournament in Cincinnati next week.

Williams' only matches this year came in January at the Australian Open, where she lost in the third round.

Citing her chronic left knee injury, she skipped the French Open and Wimbledon.

Now her aim is to compete at the year's last Grand Slam tournament, the US Open, which starts August 28.

"I needed to take time to clear my mind and get really in shape and realise what I like to do, which is play tennis. It's what I like to do best," she said.

Williams had surgery on her left knee in August 2003, and returned to the tour the following March.

"My knee never recovered, because I came back way too fast," she said on Thursday.

Her rehab and on-court preparation this time included a stint with tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, whose proteges have included Andre Agassi and Monica Seles.

"I went to Bollettieri during the French Open," Williams said. "Nick's a good friend of mine. He's a great guy and a great coach. He did a lot for me and my game."

Williams has won seven Grand Slam singles titles and was ranked No. 1 for 57 weeks. But the time away from the tour has dropped her ranking to 140th.

As usual, though, she intends to impress on the court. "I hope to get a lot of satisfaction out of my game. I hope to go out and blow the joint up," Williams said.

"My goals - I've never said them out loud. I just expect to do what I do best, and I think I play tennis best."

The field at Cincinnati includes a handful of top players, led by eighth-ranked Patty Schnyder and 2004 French Open champion Anastasia Myskina.