Serena Williams plans busier schedule

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The Independent Online

Serena Williams flipped through her calendar and decided there were far too many blank pages in there, too many gaps in the schedule of a world–class tennis player.

That will not be the case next season. Williams says she intends to play more matches and more tournaments, part of a plan to turn her game up a notch or two.

Tennis rewards busy players with better rankings. Martina Hingis, without a Grand Slam victory since 1999, nevertheless remains No. 1, largely because she plays a full schedule, showing up every week, earning points every week.

One of the criticisms of the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, is they don't play as often as they might. For Serena, at least, that is about to change.

"I'm definitely going to play more next year," she said Wednesday after a 6–1, 6–1 victory over the Czech Republic's Denisa Chladkova that put her in the third round of the U.S. Open.

Then she started planning, thinking out loud.

"Maybe more in the earlier part of the year to make sure I can do well at the Australian Open," she said. "Maybe I'll play more clay court events because I haven't had any clay court warmups before I played the French Open. ...

"I'm definitely going to try to do better at those two Slams in particular. They are just as important as the rest."

Williams reached the quarterfinals at Australia before losing to Hingis and again was a quarterfinalist at the French Open and Wimbledon, beaten in both tournaments by Jennifer Capriati. But she played in just five other events before the Open – half as many as Hingis.

It was that limited schedule that added up to a No. 10 seeding for the Open's 1999 champion and left some skeptical about Serena.

"I've always been serious about my game," she said. "But I think now maybe I'm a little more serious, I guess, if you want to put it that way. I'm just really geared up to move up to the next level. I've been on the same level for a little too long now. It's time to move on, to let it go.

"For me, the next level is top three and then top place. Obviously, I haven't been able to reach that because I'm not playing the tournaments I need to play. If you see, with my results, if I played more, I definitely would be a better–ranked individual than I am right now.

As for her game, Williams feels it is flourishing.

"I'm feeling a lot better," she said. "Most of all, I'm feeling I can get any ball right now. I feel so fast, just so quick. I feel special."

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