(Reuters) - Serena Williams dealt with serious health issues after giving birth to her daughter last September and the former world number one said on Friday that her status for the year’s remaining grand slams remains up in the air.
Following the draw for this week’s Fed Cup tie against the Netherlands in Asheville, North Carolina, where Williams will make her competitive return on Sunday, the American was asked if it was her intention to play the last three grand slams of 2018.
“Right now, I don’t know,” Williams told reporters. “Right now I’m focused on this weekend and after that I’ll figure out what it might be.”
Williams has not played a WTA tournament since she won the Australian Open title last year and skipped this year’s opening grand slam due to concerns about her fitness four months after giving birth to her first child.
The 36-year-old American later revealed to Vogue magazine she was bedridden for six weeks from a series of complications, including a pulmonary embolism that led to multiple surgeries, after her daughter was delivered by emergency C-section.
But Williams, whose triumph in Melbourne last year gave her an Open-era record 23rd grand slam - one shy of the all-time record held by Australian Margaret Court - still has a desire to compete in tennis’s blue riband events.
“I have long-term goals obviously. Right now my main goal is just to stay in the moment,” said Williams, who will team up with world number 62 Lauren Davis in a potentially decisive fifth rubber. “It goes unsaid 25 (grand slams) is obviously something that I would love, but I’d hate to limit myself.”
Williams, who has already established herself as one of the greatest women’s players ever, has not played since losing an exhibition in Abu Dhabi last December to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Williams said she had dealt with a lot of ups and downs while preparing for her comeback but added that the challenges to regain her fitness have given her a new perspective.
“I think that’s normal for everything that I’ve gone through,” Williams said when asked about the hurdles she has had to overcome in getting back in shape.
“But it also gives me another view. It’s almost relaxing for me because I have nothing to prove. Again, just fighting against all odds to be out there, to be competing again.”
Williams also credited her older sister Venus, who will contest the opening singles rubber for the U.S. on Saturday, for helping her to not lose sight of her goals.
“I have a great partner and relationship with Venus. She’s been really, really positive,” said Williams. “There’s moments that have just been hard, getting back out there doing it every day. You have to get used to that, get in the rhythm of that.
“I’ve been able to really rely on her for that.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris