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I still doubt I can reclaim place at top, says Serena


By Robert Jones

Serena Williams has revealed preparing for her return to tennis following the birth of her first child has been difficult and that she still has doubts about how she can "keep going".

Williams makes her comeback to the WTA Tour this week when she takes on Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

The 36-year-old was last in action 14 months ago when she clinched her 23rd Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open.

She gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia on September 1 and has since been working her way back to fitness.

"It's been hard," Williams said. "There have been so many days, even still, that I'm like, 'How am I going to keep going?' But I keep going, and I know that I might not be at my best yet but I'm getting there. As long as I'm moving forward, even if it's at a turtle's pace, I'm okay with that."

Williams decided against defending her Australian Open crown in January following concerns over her ability to make an impact in Melbourne.

But she believes returning to singles action now - a month on from playing a Fed Cup doubles match for the USA - will stand her in good stead for the year's three remaining Grand Slams.

Speaking before competing at the Tiebreak Tens event in New York, where she reached the semi-finals, Williams added: "If I want to play in those Grand Slams and play well then now is the perfect time to start.

"My expectations, I don't know what they are. I can't go and say, 'I expect to lose', because that's just something I'll never say. It's just a little different, I'm just expecting to see where I am more than anything.

"I don't need any more motivation, I have the best thing I could ever want. I've always been extremely motivated.

"My main thing is I would love for my daughter to be around with me doing great so it gives me some motivation."

Elina Svitolina dominated the Tiebreak Tens in New York, winning 17 straight points during victories over Venus Williams and Coco Vandeweghe before defeating China's Zhang Shuai 10-3 to win $250,000.

The Williams sisters were the headline act at the eight-woman event at Madison Square Garden. Serena was playing singles for the first time this year as she prepares to return to the WTA Tour.

The former World No.1 won her first match against former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, but met her match in Zhang in the semi-finals, as the Chinese star came through 13-11.

The winner of two tournaments already this year, Svitolina won the last seven points against Venus to win 10-3, before crushing Vandeweghe 10-0 and then powering to victory in the final against Zhang 10-3.

Meanwhile, Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) president Martin Corrie has chosen to "step aside" while an investigation into the way a committee he was on dealt with a sexual assault allegation is carried out.

David Rawlinson, the LTA's deputy president, has taken over from Corrie as the acting president, who has "temporarily stepped aside from the duties of his role while the independent investigation is ongoing".

An LTA statement read: "As soon as we received the complaint, we undertook a comprehensive internal review of the original 2004 case. We have also now commissioned a further independent investigation which is being carried out as swiftly as possible. The outcome of that investigation will be made public when it concludes."

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