Top-seeded Serena Williams admits she’s not sure about the state of her injured right shoulder but feels more relaxed entering next week’s US Open than last year.
In 2015, Williams came to Flushing Meadows needing a record-setting seventh US Open singles crown to complete a rare calendar year grand slam sweep of the four major titles.
She fell short, losing in a shocking semi-final upset to unseeded Italian Roberta Vinci.
Williams returns to Flushing Meadows untested in recent weeks and recovering from injury.
“I have not played a lot, I haven’t practised a lot, but I’m just now starting to feel a little better,” the world number one told reporters after the draw for the year’s last grand slam tournament, which starts on Monday.
“Hopefully just every day I will keep going higher.”
Despite the uncertainty, Williams said the pressure level seemed lower.
“I think each is different,” she said. “At this point, I’m taking it a day at a time.
“I think I just am more relaxed, for sure.”
Williams, 34, said her shoulder issues surfaced the day after the Wimbledon final, where she beat Angelique Kerber of Germany to win her 22nd grand slam singles title to match Steffi Graf for most in the Open era.
The hard-serving American has only played seven tournaments this year, with a third-round exit from the Rio Olympic singles and a first-round elimination from the Rio doubles with sister Venus her only tournament action since Wimbledon.
“I think usually I prefer to play more coming into the final grand slam of the year, but there is nothing we can do about it. You just have to make the best of every single opportunity. That’s all I can do now,” she said.