Serena sets sights on reclaiming top spot

WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) Eight-times grand slam champion Serena Williams said on Monday her attitude had changed and she was ready to reclaim the world's number one ranking.

''I definitely think I'm ready for it,'' said the seventh-ranked American. ''I'm ready to dedicate myself. I'm excited by the fact that I have so much motivation.

''That's why I was so upset at the US Open. I'm really motivated now, my whole attitude has changed.'' Williams was the world's top player in 2002 when she won three grand slams but a mixture of injury and a lack of focus caused a slide in the rankings.

''Definitely injury has a lot to do with it,'' Williams told Reuters in a telephone interview from Moscow. ''Well, maybe it's a little bit of both, injury and my other interests.

''But I'm not going to stop doing what I do. I'm stubborn. That's a flaw that I have.'' The 26-year-old Williams is involved in a variety of off-court projects, including fashion design and acting.

''I definitely do a lot of different things,'' she said. ''I'm not just a tennis player. I don't want to be one of those girls that doesn't have anything to change in to when I'm done with my career.

''I think it's important to have things to fall back on.'' Williams lost in the quarter-finals of the US Open to top-ranked eventual champion Justine Henin last month and said the Belgian hit some ''lucky shots'' to win 7-6 6-1.

NO CONTRITION While admitting she was frustrated during the post-match news conference, Williams would not apologise for the remarks.

''I want to know what I said that was such a problem,'' said Williams after facing some sharp criticism. ''It was what it was.'' Williams sat out much of the American summer with several nagging injuries and believes the layoff might have affected her play at the Open.

''I couldn't hit a lot of shots for eight weeks this summer so I think it did ultimately affect my play at the Open. I was happy to even play there.

''My health is good right now. I've had a lot of injuries in the past so I'm really excited.'' Williams won this year's Australian Open, just her second grand slam title since 2003. She is playing in Moscow's Kremlin Cup hoping to gain enough points to qualify for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's season-ending championship.

With her various fitness problems behind her, Williams said she was ready to return to the top. The long trudge up the ladder is something she has done before, her ranking having tumbled to number 97 at the end of 2006.

''If I didn't believe I could be number one again I wouldn't be out here trying,'' she said. ''Will I? If I dedicate myself and do the work, I will. And I'm ready.'' REUTERS TB AS0454

Story first published: Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 10:57 [IST]
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