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Serena set to defend title in Miami

AFP-JIJI

Serena Williams steps back into her comfort zone as the world No. 1 begins her campaign to defend her title at the Miami Masters on Thursday.

The 32-year-old last played while suffering back pains in a semifinal loss a month ago in Dubai, going down to Alize Cornet of France.

After once again bypassing the Indian Wells tournament because of a family feud with organizers which has lasted for 13 years, the 17-time Grand Slam winner said that she cannot wait to get back on court.

“This is home, I don’t have to travel and I train her a lot at the courts,” Williams said. “I’m used to the conditions, the wind and the heat. I’ve been waiting for this for quite awhile.”

The American said her back is not currently a problem, adding that a treatment regimen seems to have done its job.

“I have to do a lot to make sure it stays loose, but it’s not a worry now.”

The top seed — ahead of China’s Li Na and Indian Wells finalist Agnieszka Radwanska — opens play against the winner between former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan.

Williams will be glad to get back to the heat of WTA competition although she also cannot help but feel a few nerves.

“I feel disappointed when I cannot play my best in a match, like I’ve let the fans down. There is always tremendous pressure and I actually feel it more in the early rounds than maybe the later ones.

“But I’m super-psyched right now, I’m ready to play. It can get so boring just training, even if I know it’s all part of the big picture. I’m still so eager to compete, I don’t see an end to my career anytime soon.”