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Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Serena an ace at returns

By Kenton Wong

With news Serena Williams has returned to the practice court, many will wonder if/when she will play at a Grand Slam this year. Williams has missed 10 Grand Slam events in her career, including the last two (2011 Australian Open, 2010 US Open).

After missing a Grand Slam (or two) she has usually not shown much rust in her first Grand Slam back. Twice she has won the subsequent tournament, including in 2002, when after missing the Australian Open she went on to start the 'Serena Slam' -- winning the next four Grand Slams.

However, the two times Williams made a comeback after missing multiple Grand Slams -- as she will whenever she makes her return this time around -- she was eliminated in the quarterfinals (2004 French Open) and the 4th round (2006 US Open).

Williams was ranked No. 1 in the world following her win at 2010 Wimbledon. Despite not playing in nearly 10 months, she is still ranked No. 10. In fact she was No. 1 as late as October 2010 before being passed by Caroline Wozniacki -- the current world No. 1. Williams' No. 10 ranking is her first double-digit ranking since ranking 11th in March 2008.

The French Open starts May 17 which doesn’t give Williams much time to prepare if she's pondering a return. It is also her worst Grand Slam event as she has won there just once -- in 2002. Since reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2003, Williams has not been past the quarterfinals.

It is hard to doubt Williams once she is on the court though. She has won five of the last eight Grand Slams she has entered. Not known for being very competitive in recent years in non-Grand Slam events, Williams always ramps up her game when the Grand Slams are on the line. Since the 2008 US Open, Williams is 35-15 in non-Grand Slam matches, but is 48-3 in Grand Slam matches.