Serena Williams realizes just how close she came to losing her tennis career because of blood clots in both lungs. "A lot of people die from that because you don't recognize it," the 13-time major singles champion said yesterday on the eve of returning to action at the Eastbourne International after nearly a year away from competition.
"[The doctors] just said it could have gotten a lot more serious a day later or two days later," she said. "It could have possibly been career-ending, but for the grace of God, I got there in time and I was able to recover from it."
The 29-year-old Williams' travails all started at a night out at a restaurant shortly after she won her fourth Wimbledon title last summer. Wearing sandals instead of boots to show off a new pedicure, Williams stepped on broken glass.
"My coach . . . he looked down and there's like this massive puddle of blood. I was like, 'Oh, my gosh,' " she said. "I ended up fainting because I lost so much blood."
The ligament damage to her foot required two surgeries, 10 weeks in plaster and 10 weeks in a protective boot. Then in February, she had trouble breathing.
"I always use the word 'blessed.' I had great people around me," she said. "My [trainer] forced me to go to the hospital, whereas I was actually on the way to a party, to be quite honest. She's like, 'No, you need to go to the hospital.' Glad I didn't go to that party."
Venus wins in return
Serena's sister Venus began her comeback Monday by finally beating Andrea Petkovic. Five months after a hip injury forced her to retire against Petkovic after one game of their third-round match at the Australian Open, Williams beat the German, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, in her first match at Eastbourne, a grasscourt tuneup to Wimbledon.
Murray gets Queen's Club crown