Rio a prime goal for Serena on her return to competition

Thu Mar 3, 2016 6:25pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Having played just one tournament since mid-September due to various injuries and a recent bout of flu, Serena Williams is now itching to get back into competition with the Rio Olympics among her top priorities for the year.

The American world number one has not competed since her stunning loss to Germany's Angelique Kerber in the Australian Open final in January, and says she has learned lessons from that defeat which she will use to her advantage.

"Whenever I lose, it definitely motivates me to do better," Williams, 34, said on a conference call on Thursday to promote her exhibition match with good friend Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark in New York next week.

"There's a lot from that match (in Australia) that I feel like I can improve on and do a lot better. Hopefully I will achieve that this year."

Asked if she felt fully rested after her limited playing time since mid-September, Williams replied: "Oh yeah. I was ready to go in Australia and I will be ready to go today and tomorrow, and I'll definitely be ready to go on Tuesday."

Williams, who will face Wozniacki in the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden in New York on Tuesday, has already won Olympic gold four times, once in the singles and on three occasions in the doubles.

Success in Rio counts among her biggest goals for this year.

"Tennis players never really thought about winning the Olympics, you grew up thinking about winning grand slams but now, with tennis in the Olympics, of course you think about it," Williams said.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. reacts during her final match against Germany's Angelique Kerber at the Australian Open tennis tournament at Melbourne Park, Australia, January 30, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed