Serena’s game, healthare back

Serena Williams reacts during the women's championship match against Samantha Stosur of Australia at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Perspective comes with experience, even for a rich and famous woman with a WTA Tour-record $34,751,934 in career prize money entering 2012. Serena Williams, after all these years, can find some satisfaction in good health.

“I feel good,” she said Monday on Daniel Island, where she will face 2011 Family Circle Cup runner-up Elena Vesnina tonight on the stadium court. “I’m the kind of person where if I’m not winning it’s like, ‘God, I did so bad.’ But I thought about it the other day and I told my hitting partner, ‘A year ago, I wasn’t playing and this year I’m back in the top 10.’ There aren’t many other players that can do that.”

Yeah. Probably none. Serena missed the Family Circle Cup last year and every other tournament over the first five months of the 2011 schedule. Bad enough that she had a foot injury, but the blood clots in her lungs were scary.

“It’s always frustrating to be injured in general and then when you’re dealing with an injury like that it’s not really frustrating but more like, ‘I just want to make it through this,’” Williams said. “I was dealt a lot of blows, but I just kept coming back.”

Here she is, No. 10 in the WTA Tour rankings. Playing well. Very capable of duplicating her 2008 Family Circle Cup title run.

“I have to go slow and steady instead of just wanting it all right now,” Williams said. “I think back to my other comebacks. Like in 2007, I won the Australian Open but then it was slow and steady until I got back to No. 1 (in 2009).”

There are big targets ahead, and not just the remaining three Grand Slam events. Serena and Venus Williams hope to successfully defend their Olympic doubles title in London. Serena also plans to play ?Olympic singles and mixed doubles with a yet-to-be-named but probably well-known partner.

Andy Roddick? “We always talk. We wanted to play mixed (doubles) in Australia,” Serena said. “But I have no idea what’s going on with the Olympics. I have no idea. We’ll see.”

Predictably, 2012 got off to a relatively slow start. Serena lost to Ekatrina Makarova of Russia in the round of 16 at the Australian Open. She won a couple of Fed Cup matches against Belarus in February and was idle for six weeks.

But playing well near her Palm Beach Gardens home, Serena won three matches in Miami — including a straight set victory over Samantha Stosur — before losing to Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals March 27.

She blamed too many ?unforced errors.

Stosur, ranked No. 5 and the top-seeded player at the Family Circle Cup, saw a lot of the same old Serena on the Key Biscayne hardcourts.

“I think she’s playing really well,” Stosur said. “She played a really good match against me. She went out there and beat me, and I didn’t think I did too much wrong.”

Serena skills, with extra seasoning. Still as formidable as ever.

“You just do better,” she said of her conditioning program. “You do more. You get rededicated. I’ve realized that I love this game a lot.”

Reach Gene Sapakoff at ?953-5593.

or via Twitter @sapakoff