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Women's Health

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Serena Williams Gets Back in the Game

Tennis ace Serena Williams returns to the winner's circle after battling injuries, grief, and a dramatic slip in her pro ranking.

Finding Balance

But a comeback was never far from her mind. "Tennis is a game I was born to play," Williams says now, despite court whisperings that her other interests -- from fashion design (she has her own clothing line, Aneres, which is "Serena" spelled backward), to the lights of Hollywood (she's dabbled in acting over the years, appearing on ER, The Bernie Mac Show, and Law & Order: SVU) -- were distracting the top player from performing at her peak.

"I wish I could be like Martina Navratilova," says Williams, referring to her 50-year-old colleague as someone whose passion for the sport never wanes, despite a nearly nonstop playing schedule. "But I'm not like that. I need other things in my life. I need balance."

When asked if these other "things" -- from business meetings with apparel executives to red-carpet movie premieres -- help prevent feelings of burnout, she replies, "Yes. For me, they do. Absolutely."

For naysayers who questioned her commitment to tennis before her spectacular return in Australia a few months ago, for those who wrote that she wasn't training enough, wasn't conditioned enough, and had lost her desire to win, Williams offers this: "I never stopped training. I trained all year - you have to. It was never an option to settle [for a lower ranking]."

Back on Top

So, WebMD asks, which is more difficult emotionally: maintaining a No. 1 position with your competitors gunning to take you down, or climbing back as the underdog? "I don't know which one is harder," Williams says. "There are ups and downs. When you're down -- feeling truly low -- fighting your way back can be fun. But when you're No. 1, it's the best. Nothing's better. ...

"But I never feel pressure," she continues, challenging Macci's earlier assessment. "I just stay focused on my own game. That's what works for me."

Does she believe her presence -- all 5 feet, 10 inches of cut biceps, iron-strong legs, fierce gaze, and determined focus -- intimidates her adversaries? "I really don't know," she says. "I try not to think about anyone else out there. I think about me."

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