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Serena set for LA return with sharpened hunger

Serena Williams, close to full fitness after being sidelined for most of the year, returns to action at this week's Los Angeles Open with a sharpened appetite to win more titles.

india Updated: Aug 08, 2006 13:04 IST

Serena Williams, close to full fitness after being sidelined for most of the year, returns to action at this week's Los Angeles Open with a sharpened appetite to win more titles.

The former world number one, playing her second tournament in seven months because of a chronic knee injury, has also set her sights on regaining a top-100 ranking after slipping to 110.

"It's been awfully weird this year, not being able to play most of the year and especially missing out on two grand slams," American Williams told reporters on Monday.

"That was very difficult for me. But I've been training for the last few months and I look forward to getting more matches in and playing out the rest of the year.

"It's all about being here and playing, doing the best I can do, always thinking positive and just taking it one match at a time."

Williams has not competed since losing to Russian Vera Zvonareva in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open last month, her first tournament since the Australian Open in January.

She had planned to return at last week's Acura Classic in San Diego but withdrew on the advice of her doctor.

However, the seven-times grand slam champion is certain she can again become a dominant force in the women's game.

"I'm really confident or I wouldn't be out here," the muscular 24-year-old said. "I don't foresee any problems with my getting back to the top at all.

"But my first goal is to get back into the top 100, and that would be really exciting," she added with a laugh. "Once I get there, I can really move forward in the rankings."

"Everyone says I've achieved so much but there so much more that I'd like to achieve, that I'd like to get to do."

"Most of all, I would like to take more titles. I love to compete and that's something I knew I wanted to get back to."

Williams, who became the fifth woman to hold all four grand slam titles at once with her victory at the 2003 Australian Open, takes on Russian 11th seed Maria Kirilenko in Tuesday's first round.

"It's cool that I've been able to come back and train without pain," the twice champion said. "I think that's the most promising thing."

"Physically I think I am close to 100 percent, but we'll see tomorrow."

"It's really important to do well and build confidence at any tournament, especially after coming back."

Williams, winner here in 1999 and 2000, is a wildcard entry for this week's event.