DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP)—Serena Williams says she asked for a wildcard into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships to combat boredom once she believed her back injury was on the mend.
''My back finally started to feel better but it wasn't better in time for me to play Doha at the level I'd like to play,'' said Williams, in a pre-match media interview on Monday. ''So then it became more about what can I play next and this was next on the calendar.
''It gets boring to have to practice every day. I was like, 'I don't want to practice anymore. I want to play a match.''
The American has been sidelined with an aching back since losing a three-set, fourth-round match to Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open last month.
The top-seeded Williams isn't just playing singles this week in Dubai. She and sister Venus, who also was given a singles wildcard into the main draw, were granted a wildcard into the doubles as well.
''I think it's actually going to be good for me to do (play singles and doubles) because it will give me some more match play,'' Williams said. ''I need to get used to the conditions and moving so it's definitely helpful.''
Williams, who received a first round bye, will play the winner of the all-Russian encounter between Alisa Kleybanova and Ekaterina Makarova in the second round.
In the doubles, the Williams sisters will face the second-seeded Russian pairing of Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the first round.