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Venus Williams hopeful for return before US Open

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BENJAMIN STANDIG | July 8, 2013 08:27 PM EST | AP

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WASHINGTON — Don't count out Venus Williams for a U.S. Open appearance.

That is, if her recovery from a lower back injury that forced the former world No. 1 to skip Wimbledon allows her to play in a tune-up event before the next grand slam.

The 33-year-old missed the grass-court major after 16 consecutive appearances. Williams last played in May when she lost in the first round of the French Open.

The injury also prevented Williams from rejoining the Washington Kastles, the World Team Tennis franchise she played for last season. Williams spoke with media before the two-time defending champion's season opener, attended by first lady Michelle Obama and Billie Jean King.

"I'm feeling better, I've been working hard and rehabbing," Williams said. "I just have to take my time until I feel 100 percent. It's just difficult to play tennis when you have an injury. It's hard to be confident when you're not prepared.

"I'm going to wait until I'm prepared and hopefully come back some time before the U.S. Open."

Asked if she had a specific return date in mind, Williams said, "I'm just keeping my options open. ... I know with injuries it doesn't always work out as you planned. When I'm back on the court, I'll be ready and prepared to play. At 25 percent, it's not a good way to be so I'm going to be ready when I come back."

The hard court major and final grand slam of the year begins Aug. 26.