MADRID (AP) Serena Williams is impressed with her clay court form since returning from an injury layoff and had not expected to fight for titles so quickly, she said Sunday. Williams played her first tournament since the Australian Open last week in Rome, losing in the semifinals of the Italian Open to Jelena Jankovic after squandering a match point. "I was surprised to do so well in Rome," Williams said at a news conference ahead of the Madrid Open. The top-seeded Williams has a bye in the first round in Madrid and then plays the winner between Vera Dushevina of Russia and Belarusian qualifier Kirsten Flipkens.
During her absence, the United States still managed to defeat Russia in the Fed Cup semifinals using a younger and less experienced lineup, as Williams' sister Venus was also nursing an injury. Williams hinted that she may sit out the final against Italy in November as well. "They obviously don't need the Williams sisters to be part of their team; they're doing really well without us," she said. "But it's great. It just shows that there are so many good players in the U.S. besides me and Venus."
Having a break from tennis wasn't all bad either. Williams said she used the extra spare time to improve her manicure skills. "I went to nail school, so that helped a lot," she said. "Everyone else should do it too."