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Serena Williams won't commit to Italian Open as she waits to see how injured left thigh feels

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ROME - Serena Williams isn't committing to playing in the Italian Open yet as she waits to see how her injured left thigh feels.

The top-ranked Williams withdrew before her quarterfinal match at the Madrid Open last week.

"I'm taking it a day at a time. We'll see as the week goes on. I have the rest of the day off and I'll see how I feel tomorrow," Williams said Monday. "I hit some balls today a little bit so I'm going to see later tonight how it feels."

In Madrid, Williams had her thigh heavily bandaged and said the injury occurred during a first-round victory over Belinda Bencic.

She dismissed conjecture of pulling out for precautionary reasons.

"I don't do anything out of precaution anymore. You live once and I feel like anything can happen tomorrow," Williams said. "I just physically couldn't play. I was in a lot of pain and just wasn't able to continue. When I play I want to give 100 per cent.

"I want to go out there and I want to give the fans everything that they deserve and everything that they come to see," Williams added. "And I just wasn't going to even come close to being there."

Williams is the defending champion at the Foro Italico, and also won the title in 2002. She'll also be the defending champion when the French Open starts in two weeks.

Compared to earlier in her career, Williams said she really enjoys the red clay of Rome and Paris now.

"I love the challenge of having to be more consistent and having to be that much better," she said.

Williams is slated to open against either Romina Oprandi of Switzerland or Andrea Petkovic of Germany. She's one of eight Americans in the draw — quite a large showing compared to recent years.

"It's good timing. I'm nearing the end of my career, I guess — who knows when it's going to end, I love playing — and people get inspired by different Americans maybe, and maybe start to play now," Williams said. "I love seeing all the Americans around."

The other Americans in Rome are Varvara Lepchenko, Sloane Stephens, Christina McHale, Lauren Davis, Madison Keys, Alison Riske and Serena's older sister Venus Williams.

At 32, Serena Williams marveled at the retirement announcement last week by former No. 1 Dinara Safina, who is 28.

"She's a lot younger than me," Serena said. "I just enjoy it right now. I enjoy my practice and I'm starting to look in the mirror like, 'Wow. What's wrong with me? I should be starting to not enjoy it so much.' But the older I get the more I enjoy it. It's kind of weird but I'm going to take it as it is."

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Follow Andrew Dampf at http://twitter.com/asdampf

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