In an interview with WTATennis.com, Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, said: “The plan is to get back to her best level. She has been practicing hard for that, and competition is part of the process. She needs more than anything to compete and that is why she will plan to play Indian Wells and Miami.
“We do not know how much time she will need to get her best level back, and I think that we should give her the necessary time for that without having too much expectations at the start.”
He added that her target was to win Grand Slam titles and that he expected Williams to be back to her best by the French Open in May.
The Indian Wells tournament also marks the return of Victoria Azarenka. She has not played a tour event since Wimbledon last July. She has decided not to play outside of California, where she lives, until a custody dispute over her son, Leo, is resolved. Azarenka, now ranked 204th, will face Heather Watson in the first round, and with a win, would play 13th-seeded Sloane Stephens in the second round.
The men’s single draw at Indian Wells has been decimated by injuries. Second-ranked Rafael Nadal will not play because of a right hip injury he sustained at the Australian Open in January. Stan Wawrinka, still bothered by a knee injury, will also skip Indian Wells, as will seventh-ranked David Goffin (eye). Andy Murray remains sidelined after hip surgery, but Novak Djokovic, who has been bothered by a right elbow injury for months, is currently on the entry list for Indian Wells. He has been training in nearby Las Vegas with his coach Andre Agassi.