Serena Williams spoke publicly for the first time about the virus that forced her to retire at Wimbledon on Monday, ahead of her return to action.

The world number one is due to return to action for the first time since playing at SW19 at the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, with her first match scheduled for Wednesday.

It has been a difficult time for the American, as she was bedridden for three days after pulling out of the women’s doubles at Wimbledon, after she and her sister Venus had to concede their second round match to Kristina Barrois and Stefanie Voegele.

Williams served four double faults in her only service game of that match before retiring, with some of her serves bouncing on her own side of the court, and officials announced after the match that she was suffering with a viral injury.

Ordeal

Speaking in a press conference before her participation in the tournament in Stanford begins, which will be against the winner of the first round match between Kimiko Date Krumm and Karolina Pliskova, Williams spoke of her discomfort.

The 32-year-old is quoted by ESPN as saying: "I was really, really sick. Literally, the next three days I couldn't get out of bed.

“And usually when you lose in a tournament, you leave. You don't want to be around. Most people don't want to be around the surroundings. You leave.

“I literally stayed until the tournament ended. I wasn't allowed to leave by the doctors. The doctors said, 'Don't leave. You cannot. You have to stay.' "

Venus stepped in to prevent her sister from making the problem worse when they retired at Wimbledon, as she was struggling to find the strength to simply hit the ball.

She was like, 'Walk off the court. Walk off the court.' I think she almost punched me.

"She was like, 'Walk off the court. I'm your big sister, I'm telling you, you have to leave. Listen to me.' And I'm like, 'No, it's just half the court. I can do it.' "

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It remains unclear as to what virus Williams has been suffering from, and while the 17-time Grand Slam winner is still awaiting the results of tests to determine the extent of the problem.

"I've been thinking about a lot of things. A lot of things have been crossing my brain.

“I'm going to get a lot of tests done at the end of the season and go from there.”

Return to fitness

The Michigan-born player returned to training in Croatia after finally leaving London, and she has been working hard to get back to full fitness.

"I've just been working out really hard. Running and jumping and swimming hard and jumping in the ocean and hoping the sharks don't get me.”

Williams’ retirement at Wimbledon did not prevent her from playing in the singles event, as she had already been knocked out in the third round by Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, and her second round match in Stanford will be her first singles match since that surprising loss.

Despite the recent setback, Williams is fit to take part in the US Open, which begins on Monday August 25th, where she will be aiming to defend her title that she won for the fifth time in 2013.

There is a strong chance that she will finish the year at number one in the WTA rankings, despite failing to add to her tally of Grand Slams so far this year, with her longest run in a major coming at the Australian Open in January, where she lost in the fourth round to Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic.

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Serena Williams
Tennis