World number one Serena Williams said on Monday that playing less tennis has helped extend her glittering career, as she acknowledged in the wake of Li Na’s retirement that players’ bodies can “betray” them.
The American power hitter was speaking as she prepared to compete in China’s Wuhan Open, a WTA premier-ranked event which will hold its final on Saturday, the day after her 33rd birthday.
China’s Li Na announced her retirement last Friday at the age of 32, citing chronic knee injuries, just months after she won her second Grand Slam.
Williams and her sister Venus opted in the past few years to play less, a decision once bitterly criticised by pundits as disrespectful of the game.
But she celebrated her 18th Grand Slam victory at the US Open earlier this month and shows no signs of losing her status as the world’s greatest female player.
“As for playing less, I think throughout my career, I think it’s definitely been able to help me have a longer career,” Williams said.
“I think next year something I definitely want to continue to do is really focus on breaking records in the slams and doing the best I can in those events and the ones leading up to those.”
Williams said she spent little time practising before the $2.4 million Wuhan tournament, but was “ready”.