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Her toughest foes in her half of the draw could be Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who is coming off of a disappointing opening round loss to Sachia Vichery in Indian Wells, Keys, the No. 10 seed and potentially Bellis and Azarenka, and No. 7 seed, the much improved Caroline Garcia who seems primed for a breakthrough big-tournament win.

Williams, driven away from Crandon Park straight after the match, is now 2-2 in her comeback, with her year's break from the game depriving her of any seeding protection and so laying her open to meeting potent opponents in the early rounds.

She faces a tricky first round encounter against 20-year old Naomi Osaka of Japan, who is in red-hot form after having won the title in Indian Wells last week.

Taking on Osaka so early in the tournament will be hard for Williams who is understandably taking time to return to her very best.

Such a lengthy absence means she's now ranked 491 and although the 36-year-old can use a protected world standing to enter up to eight tournaments during a 12-month period ― thus avoiding qualifying ― it does not apply to seedings. WTA No. 1 Simona Halep is among them, going as far as to say that Williams should have been No. 1 in Indian Wells, since she left at No. 1 in the world. The tournament will move there in 2019, and the draw is expected to include Williams, an eight-time champion who now has a financial stake because she owns a small share of the Dolphins. Unfortunately, for reasons I still can't get my arms around [a lengthy lawsuit over land use], we weren't able to spend that money, weren't able to make those improvements.

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He added that the change "provides for a player to return with a protected ranking but does not allow for a player to be seeded based upon the special ranking which was put in place". Pictured: Naomi Osaka of Japan gives a speech with the trophy after her victory in the WTA final over Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation during the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California, March 18, 2018.

The Miami Open kicked off Monday, and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was there as organizers of the popular events announced major plans about its future.

'It makes sense to protect someone who goes on maternity leave, ' said Blake about his countrywoman.

"I had some great times, some great memories there, and so many iconic moments have happened there", she said.

In January, Williams pulled out of the Australian Open, saying she just wasn't ready after giving birth in early September. "A day at a time", she said. "It's not exactly where I want to be, but, I mean, I'll get there eventually". Is she going to be nervous playing Serena now that expectations are higher?


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