I was on my deathbed - Serena Williams
Serena Williams has revealed the terrifying ordeal she experienced when she was admitted to hospital with a potentially life-threatening blood clot on her lung, with the former world No. 1 left fearing she was on her "deathbed".
The American has been sidelined since winning her fourth Wimbledon crown last year, picking up a cut on her foot while leaving a restaurant a week after her triumph at SW19 - which required surgery - before falling ill with a pulmonary embolism in March.
Eleven months on from winning a 13th grand slam singles title, Williams returns to the court on Tuesday in the AEGON International in Eastbourne, though it is clear her recent health problems are still at the forefront of her mind.
"I was literally on my deathbed at one point," she said in the Mirror. "The doctors said I had several clots in both lungs and a lot of people die from that condition because they don't realise they exist.
"I couldn't breathe and I just thought I was out of shape, so I thought I needed to get on the treadmill or hit the gym. It could have gotten a whole lot more serious a day or two later - it could have been really not good, possibly career-ending, but for the grace of God we caught it in time and I was able to recover.
"I was on the way to a party, but my physio forced me to go to the hospital. She was like, 'No, you need to go to hospital now'. Glad I didn't go to that party."
The bizarre incident at a restaurant in Munich that preceded her lung condition continues to play on Williams' mind. She needed 18 stitches after stepping on broken glass, spending almost five months with a foot in a plaster cast.
"I was at this restaurant-bar with my nephew and hitting partner, and we were leaving when I felt something under my foot," she said. "I said, 'Be careful, I think there's glass on the floor'. Then I stepped back and realised it really hurt.
"I'm thinking, 'OK, I'm tough, I'm going to keep walking', but then I took another step and I was like, 'Oh my God, there is definitely glass on the floor.' There was this massive puddle of blood. I ended up fainting because I lost so much blood and needed stitches in both feet.
"I guess it sliced right through my ligament because one toe was hanging low. I had to have two operations."
Despite her lengthy absence, Williams has not been deterred by her near-death experience and is vowing to recapture her best form.
"I still have that insatiable desire that makes me want to win," she said.
Due to her inactivity, Williams has slid down the rankings to No. 26.
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