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Sisters Plan Australia Return

Recovering from injuries, Serena and Venus target January's Open for their first tournament since Wimbledon.

November 04, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

If Serena and Venus Williams don't want to answer a question, well, they simply don't do it, having mastered the science of artful dodging long ago.

And so, it says something when the Williamses put a timetable on their return to the tour, pointing to the Australian Open in January. The sisters, appearing at a fashion show in Santa Monica for the WTA Tour Championships, fielded a limited number of questions from reporters Monday night, saying they were aiming for Australia.

That would be their first appearance at a tournament since they met in the Wimbledon final in early July.

Venus has been out because of an abdominal strain. Serena had knee surgery on Aug. 1.

"It's been a long road till now, but in general, I feel well," Venus said. "I'm doing a lot better. I'm obviously disappointed I couldn't be in the Championships, but I guess the way I look at it, some things aren't always meant to be." Her progress had been slow until recently.

"I'm getting closer. I'm in the 90 percentile," Venus said. "Up till a few weeks ago, I was down and out with the injury. I just realized one day that I'm doing better. But it took a while to get to that point. It took a lot longer than I ever would have imagined. At first, I thought I would be out for a week. But I think it was a constant aggravation. I shouldn't have played the French Open.

"I guess that's what helped me out to make that decision not to play the U.S. Open, because I realized the damage I had done to myself the previous tournament. It's well worth it. I'll get a good start [next year], 100% healthy." Neither sister would say how much they've been on the court.

"Obviously, I miss it a lot, but I don't want to dwell on the fact a little too much that I'm going to miss it," said Serena, adding that her injured knee was better.

Asked directly about playing the Australian Open, Serena said: "Yeah, I will. I'm going to play a warmup tournament [in Perth] and so I think it will be great."

*

Justine Henin-Hardenne, the French Open and U.S. Open champion, is suffering from a fever and said that she has asked tournament officials for a Thursday start.

The tournament starts with round-robin play on Wednesday night. On Monday, Henin-Hardenne canceled practice and was unable to even work out off the court for more than a few minutes.

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