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Serena up for the task in New York

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Originally published on: 02/09/11 10:43

Serena Williams rarely needs motivation when she takes to court. A year out of the game with injury and a life-threatening illness has served to only strengthen her willpower. But after watching sister Venus pull out of the US Open following the news that she is suffering from Sjogren’s Syndrome – an auto-immune disease that causes joint pain and fatigue – Serena stepped her level up another notch, routing Michaella Krajicek 6-0 6-1 to reach round three.

“She wants me to do the best; she wouldn’t want me to suffer. It should motivate me more,” said Serena of her elder sister’s plight. “I know she’s a fighter and she’s really strong. She’s great. I think she’s really happy now that she knows what it is after all this time. I think, if anything, it’s gonna help her now to treat it and go forward.”

The younger Williams has had no problems going forward of late, and since returning to the tour in Eastbourne, the 30-year-old has gone from strength to strength, reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon in her second tournament back before winning back-to-back events in Stanford and Toronto, where she defeated three top 10 players in the process.

It’s clear that the 13-time Grand Slam champion has plenty more to give to the game, and she admits that her itchy feet spurred her return to tennis after the illness that could, for most, have been career-ending.

“I hate sitting at home, you know, and like not doing anything. That really gets uncomfortable,” Williams said. “It’s like I’m sitting there and watching tennis and I’m like, ‘Hmm maybe I can beat them, maybe I can do that’. So that kind of helped me. I hate losing. I’m like the worst loser in the world. Oh, I’m still working on that. But, you know, that keeps me motivated and keeps me going.”

Though now favoured to add a fourth US Open title to her 1999, 2002 and 2008 triumphs, Williams believes next opponent Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Gisela Dulko in straight sets, will feel more pressure in their third round clash. 

“She’s had a whole year to prepare and she’s been doing really great. I kinda feel I’m definitely going in as the underdog because she’s won more tournaments and she’s been doing a lot. I feel like I have nothing to lose in this match.”

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